Digital X-rays

Northern Virginia Dental Office Digital X-Rays

Impact Dental Care offices in Lorton, Stafford, and Woodbridge are fully digital clinics. We are equipped with the most advanced technology that can be used to diagnose and treat dental problems with great accuracy and effectiveness.

Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. X-rays are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping a dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in a patient’s mouth before they become a major problem. Digital dental x-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam.

Dental x-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses or cysts.
  • Check the health of the bony area around the tooth.
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
  • Decay between the teeth.
  • Familial dental anomalies are present.
  • Tooth and root positions.
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
  • Find cavities between and on the teeth.
  • Look at the tooth roots.
  • Determine if periodontal disease is an oral care issue.
  • Status of developing teeth.
  • Evaluate injuries to the teeth after trauma.
  • Monitor good tooth health through prevention.
  • Find if teeth have bone loss or periodontal disease.
  • Visualize teeth that are malposed or impacted.

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!

X-rays are divided into two main categories, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral is an X-ray that is taken inside the mouth. An extraoral X-ray is taken outside of the mouth.

Intraoral X-rays are the most common type of radiograph taken in dentistry. They give a high level of detail of the tooth, bone and supporting tissues of the mouth.

Common types of X-rays performed in Lorton, Woodbridge and Stafford, Virginia:

Bite-Wing: The x-ray film or plastic sensor has a little tab in the middle, patient bites on with their back teeth. It captures the image of both the lower and upper posterior teeth. This type of X-ray shows the dentist how these teeth touch one another (or occlude) and helps to determine if decay is present in between the back teeth.

Periapical: Provides a view of the entire tooth, from the crown to the bone that helps to support the tooth. Each periapical x-ray picture view is limited to two or three adjacent teeth. Each periapical X-ray shows this full tooth dimension and includes all the teeth in one portion of either the upper or lower jaw. Periapical X-rays are used to detect any abnormalities of the root structure and surrounding bone structure.

Occlusal: Offers a clear view of the floor of the mouth to show the bite of the upper or lower jaw. This kind of X-ray highlights children’s tooth development to show the primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. This X-ray is done when your jaw is closed to see how your upper and bottom teeth line up. It can also detect anatomical abnormalities with the floor of the mouth or the palate.

Panoramic: A machine that rotates around the outside of the head takes this picture. This X-ray shows a view of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and the joints of the jaw.

Cone Beam CT: The cone beam CT uses more x rays than bitewing, periapical or panoramic x rays. It helps to create e three-dimensional (3D) pictures so that the dentist can better gauge the spacing of teeth and adjacent structures. In the past, it was used infrequently compared to the other types of dental X rays although now it has become a routine to take the CT scan to aid in the diagnosis of root fractures and to plan for dental implants.

Are dental x-rays safe?

While dental X-rays do involve radiation, the exposed levels are so low that they’re considered safe for children and adults. Dentist uses digital X-rays instead of developing them on film, your risks from radiation exposure are even lower. 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.

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 by placing a lead “bib” over your chest, abdomen, and pelvic region to prevent any unnecessary radiation exposure to your vital organs. A thyroid collar may be used in the case of thyroid conditions. Children and women of childbearing age may also wear them along with the lead bib.

Pregnancy is an exception to the rule. Women who are pregnant or believe they may be pregnant should make their dental team aware so special precautions can be taken to protect the developing fetuses.

Are you pregnant?

Make sure to tell your dentist. During your pregnancy, you may need to have X-rays taken as part of your treatment plan for a dental disease. Use of the leaded apron and thyroid collar will protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental X-rays do not need to be delayed if you are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

The American Pregnancy Association states that although the amount of radiation you receive from a single x-ray is not enough to pose a real threat to a developing fetus, they highly recommend you put off any routine x-rays until after the baby is born.

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. Some people may need X-rays as often as every six months. People who visit the dentist regularly and have excellent oral health may need X-rays only every one to three years or so.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing 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.

Who needs more frequent or regular X-rays?

  • Children and teenagers.
  • Adults with numerous fillings, crowns, bridges or other restorations.
  • People with periodontal (gum) disease.
  • People with dry mouth, also called xerostomia.
  • Users of chewing tobacco.

Benefits of Digital Dental Radiography

  • Less Radiation.
  • Shorter Dental Appointments.
  • Higher Quality images.
  • Transferring Dental Records is easy.
  • Environmentally Friendly.

No matter what type of X-rays you choose, dental X-rays are an important part of your regular dental visits. Dental X-rays are necessary to help diagnose problems not visible to the naked eye. If you’re concerned about radiation, talk to your dentist about your X-ray options.