Dental Exam / X-rays
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by dentist at your initial dental visit. The following will be included in the exam:
Check the muscles and joint to determine if the pain and discomfort is caused by muscular issues, a
misaligned bite, or if there area some more serious problems with the physical joint.
Oral cancer screening:
Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums to look for signs of caner or precancerous
conditions. The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify mouth cancer early, when there is a greater
chance for a cure.
X-rays will be evaluated for detection of dental decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help
determine tooth and root positions.
All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments. Sometimes a special machine
called Diagnodent (check the Technology section) can be used to confirm dental decay. Intra-oral
pictures will be taken for record keeping and to show the patient what they look like (one picture can tell
Check the gums and bone around the teeth will be checked for any signs of periodontal disease. This
exam involves taking six measurements around each tooth to measure the depth of the space between the
tooth and gums. Additionally, any recession or mobility of the teeth will be measures.
Oral hygiene instruction:
Your teeth and gum will show how you have taken care of them at home. Depending on how they look,
dentist will suggest how to do brush, floss, and what kinds of toothpastes and brushes to use.
There are different types of x-rays in dentistry.
Bitewings show teeth above the gum line and the height of the bone between
teeth. They help diagnose gum diease and dental decay between teeth.
Normally, 2 bitewing x-rays are taken on each side for adults, and 1 bitewing
Perioapical x-rays capture the whole tooth (from the crown to the root). They
are often used to detect any unusual changes in the root and surrounding bone
structures like abscess.
Panoramic x-rays show the entire mouth area on a single x-ray. They are
useful to detect the position of fully erupted as well as erupting teeth, can
identify impacted teeth, find where the sinus and big nerve canals are, and
aid in the diagnosis of tumors.
3D Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT):
3D CBCT is a specialized type of x-ray that provides more information
than conventional dental x-rays. They allow accurate, three-dimensional
(3D) imaging of hard tissue structures. Especially in implant dentistry,
CBCT is helpful to map out where the sensory nerves are to select the
right implant length. This helps reduce the risk of nerve damage. It is
invaluable when managing complex root canal cases, assessing failures,
and searching for missed nerve canals.
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.
Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.
A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bitewing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.