When you visit your dentist for your regular check-up, your dentist performs a visual exam of your smile. They check the health of your teeth and gums and look for signs of potential issues. If they find any, they can offer swift treatment to restore your smile before lasting damage can accrue.
While this oral exam is crucial to your dental care, your dentist will also recommend an x-ray of your smile once a year. This imaging will reveal more details about your oral health beyond what the naked eye can evaluate.
Dental x-rays are perfectly safe for patients of all ages. But you might feel more comfortable undergoing this imaging when you know more details about its benefits. Check out three important uses of a routine dental x-ray when you read on.
Diagnose Tooth Decay
Most of us will develop cavities at some point in our lives. This early form of tooth decay forms when natural oral bacteria penetrate weak spots in the enamel and start to damage the dental structure. If it wears a hole in the tooth’s surface, this is a cavity.
A cavity can present with noticeable symptoms, like dental discoloration or tooth sensitivity. But sometimes, it does not. And it might form in spots where a dentist cannot see, like between two teeth.
However, tooth decay shows clearly on a dental x-ray. So dentists rely on this imaging to ensure your smile stays free of cavities. Make sure you do not delay cavity treatment, or the decay will worsen.
View Tooth Pulp
The dentist can view the enamel, the outermost layer of the tooth, during a visual exam. But you could sustain damage to your tooth pulp that could threaten your smile. For instance, impact trauma to a tooth may interrupt blood flow to the pulp.
This might result in a non-vital tooth. While not acutely harmful, a dentist will want to monitor this tooth’s condition because it faces a higher risk of infection. The dentist can identify problems within the tooth pulp with regular x-ray imaging of your smile.
Keep an Eye on Tooth Growth
Most people will see their full set of adult teeth grown into place by the time they reach adolescence. But the teeth might shift out of their straight alignment over time. If a dentist can view the position of your teeth through consistent x-ray imaging, they can notice changes in their alignment and help you avoid serious malocclusions.
This way, you can better preserve your straight smile and avoid the need for more intensive dental intervention. Dental x-rays will also reveal the growth of wisdom teeth, an extra set of molars that tend to grow after puberty.
Some patients might be able to grow wisdom teeth without issue. But the jaw is not big enough for these teeth in many cases. Then they get stuck in the gums and become impacted. They have a high chance of infection in this state and will require extraction surgery.
The dentist can monitor wisdom teeth with x-rays and intervene before the patient suffers pain or another disruption to their schedule. Learn more by giving your dentist a call today.