Why are X-Rays critically important for dental health?

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Dental X-Rays provide an in-depth view of the teeth and periodontal bone. Dental disease is often missed without up-to-date X-Rays. A periodic full series of X-Rays is therefore essential in order to prevent needless trouble and expense. It is not advisable for patients to go longer than two years without a complete full series of X-Rays. Periodontal disease and cavities are often painless, and there may be no warning signs. A minor problem can easily turn into a serious one so early detection is critical. Sudden and significant changes in X-Rays can sometimes result from a systemic condition like diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Periodic X-Ray examination could be life-saving!

You may object to having dental X-Rays out of concern for radiation. However, dental X-Rays do not have to penetrate deep structures, so the amount of radiation is not comparable to medical X-Rays. In fact, the actual radiation from dental X-Rays is minuscule by comparison. A full series of X-Rays only requires 14 X-Rays. It would take 2000 dental X-Rays to equal one mammogram and 1070 dental X-Rays to equal one lower GI series. The threshold for the yearly safe dose would be 10,000 dental X-Rays. Even the most extensive dental work doesn’t require enough X-Rays to approach anywhere near this threshold. The risk from dental radiation is therefore infinitesimal compared to the risk of not taking X-Rays and missing dental disease.

X-Rays are one of the best tools to measure the success of restorative dentistry because it shows the level of the bone around the roots of teeth. The longevity of teeth ultimately depends on the health of this bone. Restorations brought close to the bone follow good principles of engineering in that they bring the forces close to the supporting foundation. This ideal arrangement is evident in X-Rays taken after ideal restorative treatment. Many dentists do not utilize techniques that allow achievement of this ideal arrangement. The success of restorative dentistry can be demonstrated by comparing bone levels in current X-Rays with bone levels in previous sets of X-Rays. Successful dentistry will show minimal changes in the X-Rays over a period of many years.

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