Radiographic Examinations

What is a radiograph and why are they necessary

A dental radiograph is an image produced on a phosphor or sensor plate. The image is created when gamma rays (commonly known as x-rays) hit a sensor on the plate; the image is then processed on computer. Radiographs are a necessary part of mouth examinations as they allow the dental professional to diagnose any dental conditions such as dental caries, infections, cysts, gum disease and bone loss as well as oral cancer. Using the diagnosis of these films the dental professional is able to produce a dental management plan for treating any conditions of the mouth.

Different types of radiographs

There are 3 different types of radiographs that are taken of the mouth. An Orthopantomograph- otherwise known as a panoramic film- shows the whole anatomy of the mouth, this allows the dental professional to examine bone depth, sinus cavities, wisdom teeth, cysts, abscesses, tumours and any abnormalities in the jawbone and mouth. O.P.G films are often used to indicate cases where the development of the teeth require orthodontic treatment. It is recommended that panoramic films are taken every 5 years.

Bitewing radiographs are taken on the left and right side of the mouth showing the dental professional the crowns of the teeth. These films are  important for diagnosing dental problems which may not have been diagnosed just by looking in the mouth. These films are taken every 2 years.

A periapical film is another radiograph the dental professional will take for diagnosing problems.  A periapical films show the entire tooth including the crown and the root, this allows the doctor to examine the apex (tip) of the root, looking for abscesses, cysts or gum disease. These radiographs aren’t taken routinely, only when patients have a concern with a particular tooth or area of the mouth.

How much radiation am I exposed to

Patients are often reluctant to have radiographs taken due to the radiation exposure from the procedure. At Coral Coast Dental we use digital radiographs, using a sensor plate, resulting in less radiation doses than earlier types of dental radiographs. The amount of radiation a patient is exposed to is less than what a person would receive by just being outside and receiving background radiation. Background radiation is specified as from the sun and atmosphere.