There you are at your bi-annual dental checkup and you’ve just gotten seated in the chair. The hygienist mentions that you’re due for X-rays, but you could swear that you just had them done! Not only that, but you always find yourself wondering why your dentist wants to take X-rays in the first place. Do they really benefit you?
The truth is that they benefit you in several ways! In this blog, you’ll learn about three of the most important reasons your dentist in Sewell takes X-rays – keep reading to learn more!
X-rays Are Used To Find Cavities When They’re Small
Many patients think that they would know if they had a cavity because they would be in pain. That’s only true in some cases – usually, cavities don’t cause pain unless they’re fairly large. Why? It has to do with the anatomy of a tooth.
Each tooth has three layers:
- The outer layer is the hardest and is called enamel.
- The second layer is called dentin, which is a bit softer.
- The innermost layer is called pulp. It’s the softest layer and is where the nerve of the tooth resides.
When a cavity begins, it stays within the enamel layer of the tooth. Most people will not have any pain at this stage because the decay is so far from the nerve. This is the ideal time to find a cavity because it can be fixed with a small, inexpensive filling.
As the cavity gets larger, it moves through the layers of the tooth and gets closer to the nerve. This is when most people start feeling pain, but at this stage, more extensive dental work must be done.
X-rays help your dentist find cavities when they’re small and easier to fix!
Your Dentist Uses X-rays to Monitor Your Gum Health
Your gum health is about more than just your gums. It’s also about the underlying jawbone that keeps your teeth in place.
Think about a fence post in the ground. If the dirt surrounding it goes down, the fence post becomes wobbly and unstable. It’s similar to the way your teeth are surrounded and supported by bone – the higher your bone levels are, the more support your teeth have.
The best way to see your jawbone is to take an X-ray. This allows your dentist to closely monitor your bone levels and recommend proactive treatment if they start to go down.
Cysts and Tumors Are Detected With X-Rays
When doing an exam, a dentist can only see the outside surface of your teeth, gums and jaws. If there’s a cyst or tumor present underneath the surface, it’s impossible to detect without X-rays.
A great example is the cysts that can occur around wisdom teeth. Since they form around the roots of the teeth, they’re “buried” under the gum tissue where they can’t be seen. Fortunately, routine X-rays will reveal these cysts so they can be treated before they become dangerous.
Now that you have a better understanding of how X-rays work to benefit your oral health, you’ll never be left wondering if they’re necessary again!
About the Author
Dr. John McCarty is a general, restorative and cosmetic dentist who understands the importance of preventative care. His goal is to find any oral health problems for his patients as early as possible to minimize the amount of dental work that needs to be done to correct them. If you have any questions, he can be contacted via his website or at (856) 582-0090.