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All About Dental X-Rays

November 06, 2022
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A dental x-ray is an essential tool for dentists to uncover oral issues that aren’t discoverable with a simple oral examination. An oral x-ray isn’t much different from a general x-ray. Dental x-rays are used to examine both specific dental problems and overall oral health.

All about dental x-rays

Dental x-rays are crucial for everyone because they allow a dentist to understand better what’s going on in the patient’s mouth. Dental x-rays also have preventative use. Sometimes, it can trace dental problems before they appear. For example, a dental x-ray can tell if a child is developing a decay or wisdom tooth.

Both adults and children can safely take dental x-ray tests. Dental x-rays can show decay between teeth or under existing fillings in adults. It can also trace bone loss due to infections or some other reason. Dental x-rays also detect cysts and tumors in the mouth.

Dental x-rays should be a part of your regular dental care routine; however, the frequency varies from person to person. For example, frequent dental x-rays may be necessary for people who suffer from periodontal disease or dry mouth. Smokers should also have their teeth and gums examined for traces of bone loss. If you’ve had several restorative fillings and implants, frequent dental x-rays are essential for monitoring damage.

Apart from pregnant women, dental x-rays are safe for everyone. There’s some debate about whether dental x-rays are safe for children. However, modern dental x-ray techniques release tiny amounts of radiation that are generally unharmful. So while it’s safe for children most of the time, pregnant women should avoid dental x-rays.

The dental x-ray process is simple and fast. The dentist would position the x-ray machine against your head to get a clear image of the mouth. Patients don’t need to take any preparatory steps for dental x-rays.

Types of dental x-rays

Two primary dental x-rays are available for oral health: intraoral and extraoral. As the names suggest, the x-ray is inside or outside the mouth, depending on the type of x-ray you are getting.

There are subtypes of intraoral and extraoral x-rays as well.

Intraoral x-ray types are:

  • Bitewing X-rays: For information about the teeth in one section of the mouth, both the upper and lower.
  • Periapical X-rays are for the entire tooth. Therefore, from the crown to the point past the root that fuses with the jaw.
  • Occlusal X-rays: To follow a complete arch of teeth’s growth and placement.

Extraoral x-rays include:

  • Panoramic X-rays: For each tooth in the upper and lower jaws
  • Tomograms- For specific mouth “slices” or layers
  • Panoramic X-rays: For issues with the salivary glands, like blockages or Sjogren’s syndrome

Innovation at its best – 3D panoramic dental x-rays

Dental x-ray technologies have improved significantly over the last few years, most notably with the introduction of 3D panoramic dental x-rays. 3D x-rays are safer due to lower radiation levels. More importantly, they are useful for detecting nerve canal paths and hidden roots. It’s also more helpful for teeth issues like root canal therapy. In addition, 3D x-ray technologies are cheaper, faster, and safer than traditional x-ray machines.


If you haven’t had a dental x-ray in a long time, it might be time to visit your dentist and get a 3D panoramic x-ray of your teeth and gums. We hope this guide enlightens you about the importance of dental x-rays.

Ready when you are

Lamine Diallo
Lamine Diallo
02:21 15 Jun 22
My family and I have been receiving care from Dr. Ashraf and his amazing team since we first moved to Waterloo in 2002. His assessment skills are spot on, he is gentle and is very skilled at working with anxious\nervous patients. My dental hygienist is Lin who is very knowledgeable, and passionate about her work. She is amazingly gentle yet very,very thorough when it comes to preventative dental care. She is didactic as well, taking the time to teach patients how to use certain equipment as well as addressing gingivitis in pro-active ways. We are in very capable hands.
Trisa Kapetaneas
Trisa Kapetaneas
18:12 01 Jun 22
I have been a patient here for over 2 years now and I've always enjoyed the experience. The staff are professional and have always made me feel comfortable. I recently had a cleaning done by Lynn for the first time and she was amazing! Will continue to visit for my checkups/cleanings.
Aamir Mirza
Aamir Mirza
14:54 03 May 22
Dr. Ashraf and his team is amazing. All work done under one umbrella for entire family. We all are very happy to be under the care for the last 20 plus years. Lin, dental hygienist is remarkable professional. She knows her job so well that I look forward to my cleaning every time I'm scheduled. Thank you Lin for your amazing work for my entire family!
Alena Delena
Alena Delena
14:50 02 May 22
My family loves Dr Ashraf. We've been through many dentists in many cities and he's by far our favourite one. He's always thorough and professional. His referrals are also of equal high caliber. I went to him for a root canal and a crown. I had many concerns and he addressed them all personally. He even went so far as to redo a root canal for me. Recommend.
Nicole Wood
Nicole Wood
15:31 28 Apr 22
I found Ashraf Dentistry a year ago and I absolutely love their dental clinic. Everyone is very kind and thorough. Lin is the best dental hygienist I've ever had! She takes the time to ensure I receive the care I need. Both dentists I've seen have also been very kind and wonderful at making me feel like my teeth are being taken care of. Highly recommend!
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