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Digital Imaging/ X-Rays

Dental radiographs are more commonly known as x-rays. We use x-rays for many reasons. These include finding cavities or infections, measuring bone loss, and discovering hidden dental structures such as extra teeth, or pathologies.

A radiograph is formed by a controlled burst of x-ray radiation which penetrates oral structures at different levels, depending on varying tissue densities, before striking the film or sensor. Teeth appear whiter than air because less radiation reaches the film behind. Cavities, infections and other changes in the bone density, appear darker because x-rays easily go through these less dense structures. Fillings and crowns may appear lighter or darker, depending on the density of the material.

The dosage of x-ray radiation received by a dental patient is typically small. A full-mouth series, or about 20 single x-rays, is equal to a few days' worth of background environmental radiation exposure, or similar to the dose received during a cross-country airplane flight. Incidental exposure is reduced even more by the use of a lead apron with a lead thyroid collar.

Once a traditional film has been exposed to x-ray radiation, it needs to be developed, traditionally using a process where the film is exposed to a series of chemicals in a dark room.This can be a time-consuming process, and incorrect exposures or mistakes in the development process can lead to retakes, exposing the patient to additional radiation.

At Hunter's Gate Dental, we are happy to be now using digital x-rays for all view types. Digital x-rays replace the film with an electronic sensor, which addresses many of the negative issues with the traditional radiographs. These benefits include much less radiation to the patient, immediate processing, ability to enlarge/highlight/draw on, and of course they are much more environmentally friendly with no disposal of harmful chemicals or lead-containing film. With our in-room computer screens, we are able to enlarge the films instantly, and will discuss with you the findings in those x-rays.

X-Ray Views

1. The periapical view can be taken of both front and back teeth. The objective of this type of view is to see the very end of the root of the tooth, and it's surrounding bone. This is often helpful in determining the cause of pain in a specific tooth, and is often used to determine the need for a root canal treatment. It can also be used to find extra teeth, or teeth impacted under the bone or gum.

2. The bitewing view is taken to allow us to see the crowns of the back teeth and the height of the bone surrounding the tooth. Routine bitewing x-rays are commonly used to examine for cavities between the teeth and recurrent caries under existing crowns and fillings. The name bitewing refers to a little tab of paper or plastic situated in the center of the x-ray film, which when bitten on, allows the film to hover so that it captures an even amount of upper and lower teeth in the view.

3. We would take an occlusal view when we want to see the anatomy of either the floor or roof of the mouth. It is also used if we want to check for the presence of permanent teeth under the front primary or 'baby' teeth.
4. The panoramic view is taken from outside the patient's mouth, and shows us an overview of the entire dentition and jaw bones. Panoramic views are mainly used to find impacted teeth, although they are also used to detect pathologies in the bone of the upper and lower jaws.

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