Dental x-ray is a method of radiation diagnostics used to study the structure of the tooth: the shape and structure of the crown, root, and surrounding soft tissues. The study allows you to identify the presence of an additional root, fused teeth and uncut wisdom teeth, diagnose inflammatory processes, cysts, tumors and osteomyelitis. The lower molars are visualized using an extra-oral image. The intraoral method is used to display the remaining teeth.
Indications for dental X-ray
A referral for an X-ray is given by a dentist after a visual examination of the oral cavity and a patient interview. There are quite a lot of indications for radiography.
- Root crack or fracture. The feeling of severe pain in a certain area of the jaw when biting or chewing food is a sign of a fracture of the root of the tooth (or a crack in it). Also, during the examination of the oral cavity, an edematous, hyperemic mucosa can be found near the injured tooth. On an X-ray, the fracture will be visualized as a small darkened stripe on the root of the tooth. Also, the snapshot will allow you to determine which group of fractures a particular case belongs to: transverse, vertical, oblique, comminuted.
- Periodontitis. Periodontitis is called the pathological process of inflammation of the supporting apparatus of the tooth. This process may be asymptomatic at the first stages, while gradually destroying the bone tissue around the tooth, and then the tooth itself. Subsequently, the patient has bleeding gums, their swelling, small mobility of teeth. Such pathology as periodontitis has a very high frequency of manifestations (approximately 90% of the adult population is susceptible to this disease in one form or another). Periodic radiography for preventive purposes (how often you can do dental X-rays for children and adults will be described below) allows you to see periodontitis in its early stages and start treatment on time. On the pictures you can see the degree of bone tissue change, the destruction of the septa, inflammatory and purulent processes.
- Periodontitis. Periodontitis is an inflammatory process affecting the root membrane of the tooth, as well as the surrounding tissues. This pathology is most often the result of prolonged caries and the absence of any treatment.Periodontitis on the X-ray is visualized as a layering in the periapical region. With this pathology, fistulas with purulent contents appear. X-rays show foci of destruction with fuzzy, uneven contours.
- Anomalies in the location of the dental joint. In case of incorrect growth of teeth, their non-standard location (with a tilt, with a turn, etc.), a dentist or orthodontist may prescribe an X-ray to identify an anomaly in the location of the dental joint. It is better if such a diagnosis is carried out in childhood, when the location of the teeth can be easily changed with the help of braces. At the same time, it should be taken into account that children should not be X-rayed as often as adults.
- Neoplasms or abscesses. X-rays are the best way to diagnose neoplasms, such as dental root cysts. In the picture, the cyst is displayed as a darkened area, which has a round or oblong shape with clearly defined contours. An abscess is an accumulation of pus in a certain area of the dental system. It is also noticeable on the X-ray.
Types of dental x-ray
After the examination, the doctor can prescribe one of four possible types of X-rays to the patient.
- Bite. This method allows you to reflect the crown part of the tooth in the image. It is used to detect periodontitis, interdental caries. With the help of bite fixation, you can get pictures of the upper and lower teeth. Sometimes such a picture can be performed after prosthetics and installation of the crown to see how well the procedure is performed.
- Aimed. With the help of a sighting image, it is possible to see a specific affected tooth or several. At the same time, no more than 4 teeth can get on such a picture.
- Panoramic. With the help of panoramic images, you can control the quality and effectiveness of the treatment already performed. They allow you to see a complete picture of the state of the entire dental system, and these are not only teeth with obvious problems (for example, caries, chipping, etc.), but also roots, periodontal tissues, paranasal sinuses and the lower jaw joint. In the panoramic image, the doctor will be able to see the presence /absence of filling material, hidden carious cavities, inflammation of the root tissues, cysts, tumors, as well as teeth that have not yet erupted.
- Digital or 3D X-ray. This type of X-ray is considered the most modern and safe. With the help of a 3D X-ray, you can get a clear image of the entire row of teeth and a specific tooth. The result is a three-dimensional picture that is displayed on the monitor.
Description of the procedure
There is a certain algorithm that describes how to properly do an X-ray of a tooth:
- the patient should take off the metal jewelry;
- then he is brought to the X-ray machine and asked to bite the photosensitive film so that the tooth under study is between the film and the device;
- a picture is taken.
If this is required, the picture can be taken in a different projection. In cases where X-rays are performed using a computer radiovisiograph, the patient puts on a special apron, and then a sensor connected to the apparatus is placed on the examined area of the dental system. The snapshot is displayed on the computer. Another option for X-rays is using an orthopantomograph. The subject stands at the device and puts his chin on a special support for complete fixation. Then he bites the block with his teeth, which will not allow the jaws to close. The pictures are taken during the rotation of the device around the patient’s head. Usually the procedure takes only a few minutes, after which the finished images are described and transmitted to the patient.
How often can I do dental x-ray?
As everyone knows, a large dose of X-ray radiation can harm human health. That is why there are some limitations for dental X-rays. If we talk about how often it is possible to do dental X-rays to an adult without harm to health, then the optimal answer is: 3-5 times a month (if required). In general, the dose of dental X-rays should not exceed 150 mSv per year.
To the question whether it is harmful to carry out dental X-rays for children, you can answer that yes. Such a diagnosis is prescribed only in extreme cases when dental pathology requires an accurate study. It is better to conduct digital research, then the harm will be minimal. It is also important to protect the child’s body with a special vest or apron before taking a picture.
In some cases, dental X-rays (how often it can be done in case of an unsuccessful first picture, the attending physician will tell you) cannot be performed properly due to the loss of contrast by the patient’s body. This can happen for several reasons.
- A granuloma, abscess or cyst appeared on a separate part of the jaw. Abscesses, cysts, granulomas can greatly darken the image, making it impossible to accurately describe and diagnose it.
- A radicular cyst appeared. A radicular cyst can hide other pathological changes in the bone tissue and tissues of the tooth.
- Improperly performed channel sealing. Incorrect use of filling material or filling of channels after removal of nerves leads to illumination of the image. Accordingly, it is not possible to see anything on it.
- The first stage of the emergence of cementoma. Dental images on a visiograph will not work in cases where the teeth are affected by cementoma. Statistics say that this disease is mainly affected by women. In 2% of cases of apical pathologies, cementoma is the consequence. At the 1st stages, the disease can be seen in the picture. Then (after about six months) it completely loses contrast.