If you own a car, you wouldn’t dream of neglecting regular oil changes and tune-ups, right? A car is a big investment and you want it to last as long as possible! When it comes to your teeth, you can think of dental checkups and X-rays the same way you think of tune-ups. Having a professional regularly inspect everything saves you time and money in the long run!
As any dentist in Newtown will tell you, X-rays play a big role in helping them thoroughly “inspect” your teeth, gums and upper and lower jaws. Dentists simply can’t provide comprehensive care without them. Keep reading to learn more about what X-rays reveal about your oral health!
Bone Levels and Gum Health
You probably don’t give it much thought, but your upper and lower jaws are actually what keep your teeth in place and give them stability so you can eat hard, tough foods with ease.
A dentist uses X-rays to see how good your bone levels are and whether your teeth have a good “foundation.”
In fact, many insurance companies require an X-ray before they’ll cover a crown because they want to make sure your bone levels are good enough to support the tooth over the long term. After all, you wouldn’t put a new roof on a house with a faulty foundation, right? This is very similar!
It takes a lot of training and time to be able to spot cavities on X-rays, which appear as dark areas on an otherwise white tooth.
On an X-ray, small cavities show up in the top layer of the tooth called enamel. At this point, people usually don’t have pain or other symptoms because the nerve of the tooth is in the innermost layer and is still well protected.
If a small cavity is caught with an X-ray, it can be fixed with a small, simple filling. However, if it goes undetected, it will grow larger and eventually destroy the inner layers of the tooth where the nerve resides.
In this case, your tooth may require a much larger filling or even a root canal and a crown.
Pathology and Disease
About every 3-5 years, a special type of X-ray is taken to evaluate the entire oral cavity, including all the teeth, the upper and lower jaw and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
This is important to make sure there aren’t any infections, cysts, bone defects or jaw lesions. Without this X-ray, there’s simply no other way to see what’s going on in these areas, as annual bitewings only show the back teeth.
During a dental exam, your family dentist in Newtown is visually limited to what’s happening on the outside surfaces of your teeth and gums. X-rays give them “X-ray vision,” so they can see what’s happening under the surface where problems start!
About the Author
Dr. Mark Carleton, a general and cosmetic dentist at The Dentists of Newtown, knows how important it is to use diagnostic tools like X-rays to catch problems when they’re small. Ultimately, his goal is to do as little dental work as possible on his patients, so he uses every tool at his disposal to monitor their oral health. If you have any questions, he can be contacted through his website or at (215) 579-9900.