A good series of dental x-rays is mandatory to accurately evaluate periodontal disease. They help determine the amount and location of bone loss, the size and shape of the roots, the amount of root still embedded in the bone, the relationship of the teeth to each other, whether the nerve in the tooth has died, the location of the sinus and mandibular nerve when placing implants and oral pathologies among other things. We are not able to treat a patient unless we have adequate x-rays. The exception is gingival grafting, which normal does not require x-rays.
There are a number of different types of dental x-rays, each with a specific purpose, but for periodontal treatment a full series of periapical films is generally required. Below is a list of the commonly taken x-ray views and the indication for each.
- Full mouth Periapicals: 16-18 detailed views of the teeth and surrounding bone, necessary for an accurate periodontal examination.
- Panograph: A single screening film showing an overview of the upper and lower jaws, sinus, temporomandibular joint and other anatomic features.
- Bitewings: Four detailed views of the side and back teeth, primarily used to detect decay. Often used with the panograph by general dentists for routine new patient screenings.
- Vertical Bitewings: Four to Seven detailed views of the teeth that can show both decay and bone levels when severe bone loss has not occurred.
- Digital x-rays: Any x-ray that is stored digitally on a computer. Available in all x-ray forms.
Many people have a legitimate concern about the amount of radiation they receive with dental x-rays. It’s un-nerving to watch the technician set the machine and run out of the room to expose the film! However, recent advances in dental x-rays make this an unnecessary concern. The film speed has improved dramatically, meaning that very little radiation is needed to expose the film. In fact, it is estimated that the amount of body radiation received with a full mouth series is much less than one would receive at a day at the beach.
Our office offer Dexis digital x-rays with allow a better dental image and great comfort to our patients. Advantages include reduced exposure to radiation (digital x-rays offer over 60% less radiation then traditional x-rays), less waiting time, shorter appointments, involved in co-diagnosis and a better understanding or treatment.