X-rays pass through your body and make an image on a special type film called a digital sensor. The image produced (the X-Ray photograph) is called a radiograph.
Radiographs allow the dentist to see what is happening deep inside the tooth and its roots. They will show any decay or gum disease, abscesses and bone loss.
The films are usually placed in special holders to make sure they sit in the right place in relation to your teeth and jaws.
Dentists use these types of X-Ray films or images:
- A “bitewing” film is gripped between your teeth. The radiograph then shows the areas in between the teeth but not the roots.
- A “periapical” film is placed next to the tooth and the image shows the whole of the tooth and its root.
Radiographs require only tiny amounts of radiation. If you are concerned about safety, it may be helpful to know that:
- The amount of radiation involved in taking a dental X-Ray photograph is very low – you are likely to be exposed to more radiation in one aeroplane flight than in a lifetime of dental radiographs.
- Your dentist will only take radiographs if they are needed.
- X-ray machines are checked regularly to make sure they are safe.
- You can still have dental radiographs when you are pregnant. Your dentist may still ask you whether you are pregnant, just to check in case you would rather not have an X-ray taken at that time.
When the radiograph is taken:
- You will need to keep very still for a few seconds to give a clear picture.
- Our X-rays are digital so the results appear on the computer after a few seconds.
- Sometimes it is useful for the dentist to compare new pictures with one taken some time ago. Your dentist will keep old images on your file.