Beneath the Surface: Dental radiography

Dental radiography is an irreplaceable diagnostic tool. Dental x-rays show issues like tooth decay, misalignment, soft tissue damage, and periodontal disease that escape visual detection. Children generally need regular x-rays to check on the progress of budding teeth and orthodontia, while most adults get x-rays infrequently. However, if you smoke, have periodontal disease, orthodontia, or chronic dry mouth, you may need more regular imaging.

Types of dental radiography


The most common type of dental x-rays are called bitewing x-rays. You’ve probably had at least one of these – do you remember biting down on the film holder? This view allows your dentist to see all of your teeth in a panorama, and is very effective for finding tooth decay. X-rays taken from different angles may concentrate on just a few teeth, or on gums and other soft tissues.

CT scans

If you are getting implants or certain kinds of surgery (like wisdom teeth extraction), you may need a computerized tomography (CT) scan. Digital CT scans take images from every angle to create a 3D image of your jaws and teeth; this image is used by surgeons and restorative dentists who work with Dr. Fondriest. You might also need a CT scan if you have advanced periodontal disease or other oral conditions that have caused bone loss.

Radiation dosage of dental radiography

While no ionizing radiation is completely safe, dental radiography exposes you to about as much radiation as a flight from coast to coast. You are normally exposed to twice as much ionizing radiation every day; sources include cosmic radiation from stellar bodies, coal-fired power plants, computer monitors, and even bananas. Medical imaging accounts for 15% or more of the total radiation dose you receive in a year.

Dr. James Fondriest is committed to patient education and will discuss the benefits and risks of dental x-rays before your procedure. Contact Lake Forest Dental Arts today at (847) 234-0517 to schedule an appointment.

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