X-rays are used to diagnose a wide variety of things. This valuable diagnostic tool can diagnose damage or disease in your child’s teeth. Although pediatric dental X-rays are extremely useful and quite common, you may have concerns.
Before doing X-rays, the dentist will review your child’s history and do an exam. However, there are areas that can’t be seen during an exam, like under the gums or inside the teeth. There are many reasons why the dentist would need to see these areas. X-rays help dentists:
Depending on which image the dentist needs, there are many types of X-rays. Here are a few types:
Bitewing X-rays are used to look at the crowns of the upper and lower teeth in one area of the mouth, like the molars and premolars. Bitewing X-rays are used to look for cavities between the teeth that are hard to see otherwise. They can also be used to monitor previous fillings for wear.
Cone Beam Computerized Tomography. These X-rays provide a 3-D view of your child’s mouth. A 3-D view is useful when the dentist needs to gauge the space and development of your child’s teeth.
Occlusal X-rays show the entire arch of teeth in either the top or bottom jaw. These X-rays can be used to see the placement of all your child’s teeth and to see how the teeth fit together when your child bites down.
Orthodontic. Also called cephalometric projections, these X-rays show the entire side of your child’s head. Since the teeth are visible in the same image as the jaw and head, these images are useful for planning orthodontic treatments.
Panoramic X-rays show your child’s whole mouth in one X-ray, so all the teeth on the upper and lower jaws will be visible. Panoramic X-rays can be used to monitor your child’s tooth development or to see if he or she needs orthodontics. These X-rays can also be used to see emerging teeth, impacted teeth, or tumors.
Periapical. Periapical X-rays are zoomed in on one or two teeth. They display the whole tooth from the crown to the root. These X-rays can be used to look for problems with the tooth’s root or the surrounding jawbone. They also show cavities.
X-rays do expose your child to radiation, so it is normal to be reluctant. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry assures us that it is safe. New technology has made digital x-rays possible. This form uses far less radiation than traditional methods. In addition, your child will also wear a lead apron and thyroid collar during the x-rays. Your dentist will always ask for your consent before performing x-rays.
While practicing good oral hygiene at home is crucial, your child still needs to see a dentist for routine visits. If you have questions or concerns about X-rays or other issues, your dentist can provide information.