5 Reasons Why Your Dentist Might Want You to Get an X-Ray

X-rays are a staple of dentist appointments, yet they frequently provoke concerns about their cost and necessity.

The reality is that any dentist worth their salt isn’t asking you to fork over cash for X-rays just so they can buy a new couch for their beach house. Instead, dentists use X-rays to see parts of your oral anatomy that aren’t visible to the naked eye in order to facilitate proper dental care in a number of ways. If you’re wondering why your dentist has ordered another set of X-rays, odds are good it’s for one of the following five reasons.

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To develop a baseline for your dental health.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, you’re just going to the dentist for the first time, or you’ve switched dentists and weren’t able to transfer your records from your previous one, then your dentist will probably want to take a few X-rays in order to get a read on the general state of your mouth.

To help detect cavities.

Early-stage cavities are frequently impossible to detect with the naked eye. X-rays allow dentists to identify cavities between the teeth, underneath fillings, and in other hard-to-see places so they can take preventative action before the decay escalates.

To plan for complex dental treatments.

Taking X-rays can help your dentist plan for a variety of dental procedures, including extractions, implants, dentures, braces, and so on. These X-rays provide dentists with valuable insights into the state and structure of your teeth before they start in on any treatments.

To identify or assess more serious oral health issues.

Because your dentist cannot see all parts of your oral cavity with the naked eye, they may need to take X-rays in order to assess the deeper state of your oral health (particularly if they have reasons to be concerned). Infections, abscesses, impacted teeth, tooth cracks, bone loss, cysts, and other oral abnormalities may all be illuminated with X-rays.

To assess your bite.

X-rays provide your dentists with insights into how your upper and lower teeth line up. This is especially useful for planning orthodontic work, but it also helps dentists identify potential issues, avoid contributing to issues, and develop a proper plan for undertaking any treatments in your mouth.

Most dentists will want to take X-rays on a yearly basis in order to stay on top of your oral health. However, those people who are more at risk of developing dental issues—such as people who have had extensive dental work, cigarette smokers, people with gum disease, and people who are prone to dry mouth—may be asked to sit for X-rays more frequently.

No matter how often you get X-rays, know that they aren’t a ruse. Instead, they’re a valuable diagnostic tool that can help your dentist detect and treat oral health issues effectively.