Anybody can get a dental X-ray done. Although patients are exposed to some extent of radiation when capturing X-rays, the amount is so minuscule; it is almost negligible.
At our clinic, we always take proper precautions to ensure that the procedure is carried out safely and at minimal risk to our patients:
- The thyroid gland is the most radio-sensitive part of the body, and we use thyroid collars to protect it from radiation. Repeated radiation to the thyroid may lead to thyroid cancer or damage to thyroid function, resulting in hypothyroidism.
- Pregnant women should avoid dental X-rays whenever possible because the X-ray machines’ radiation can cause developmental problems in the baby. If you are pregnant and taking dental X-rays is necessary, you must wear a full-body lead apron and thyroid collar to protect yourself and the baby.
Several types of dental X-rays can be taken at the dental clinic, depending on your requirement. The broadest classification is intraoral and extraoral X-rays.
- Intra-oral X-rays are used to detect problems inside the mouth; hence the X-ray sensor is placed inside the mouth. Examples of some intraoral dental X-rays are Periapical (IOPA), Bitewing and Occlusal X-rays.
- Periapical(IOPA) – These are the most common types of dental X-rays taken at the dental clinic. . They are used to detect individual teeth problems.
- Bitewing- This type of X-ray is generally used to check for tooth decay and cavities between the teeth, and to see the level of the bone surrounding these teeth. In this, we can only see the crowns of the teeth and not the roots.
- Occlusal- These intraoral X-rays can record all the front teeth in a single arch (either the upper or the lower). It’s used to detect problems in either the roof or floor of the mouth.
- Extra-oral X-rays focus on capturing structures outside the mouth, such as the jawbones, sinuses and facial bones. The X-ray sensor is placed outside the mouth. An example of such an X-ray is a Panoramic or OPG.
- Panoramic (OPG) – A full mouth dental X-ray in which all the 32 teeth, with their crowns, roots and associated structures, can be seen. We can also view the Jawbones and facial bones in this type of dental X-ray. Hence, it is instrumental in detecting bone problems such as cysts, abscesses, tumours or fractures. This is a very useful X-ray for assessing “Wisdom” teeth.
After performing the basic dental checkup, the dentist will recommend an X-ray to confirm a diagnosis or see structures not seen in the mouth. There’s not much preparation you need to do before taking an X-ray.