Types of Dental X-Ray we use and their safety

Dental x-rays use a tiny amount of radiation to get images of teeth, bones, and soft tissue of the mouth. These pictures help the dentist diagnose problems like decay between teeth, overcrowding, and dental injuries. Some cavities are difficult to see because they are between teeth or continue deep into the tooth. A digital x-ray is an excellent tool for preventing small problems from becoming big ones.

Dental assistant, Liz, poses with a family by the X-Ray machine.
One of our Super Kid patients is ready for his x-ray.

Digital Radiography

At Super Kids Austin, we use all digital dental x-ray machines. Digital technology provides us with instant, clear images of your child’s teeth and jaw so that we can make the most accurate diagnosis and decide on the best treatment together.

There are three different types of x-rays we may need to determine the best treatment options.

Bitewing Dental X-ray

Bitewing X-ray icon
  • Shows a tooth from top to the bone.
  • Used to detect decay between teeth or changes in bone density.
  • Used to check the fit of dental crowns or restorations and the integrity of tooth fillings.

Periapical Dental X-ray

Periapical X-ray icon
  • Shows the whole tooth from the top to beyond the root tips to the bone in one area of either the upper or lower jaw.
  • Used to detect root structure and surrounding bone structure abnormalities.
  • Used for conditions like periodontitis, advanced gum disease, and detecting abscess.

Panoramic Dental X-ray

Panoramic X-ray icon
  • Shows the entire mouth, including all the teeth in the upper and lower arch, in one image.
  • Images made with a machine that rotates around the head.

How much radiation is the patient exposed to during an x-ray?

Many parents and caregivers are concerned about exposing their child to any amount of radiation. And we can certainly understand; it sounds scary! But there are several reasons that you don’t need to be concerned. Firstly, the amount of radiation used in digital dental x-rays is tiny. You get more background radiation taking an airplane flight or eating a banana.

We are exposed to small amounts of radiation all the time. Our body will naturally be able to compensate for it.

Another factor is the part of the body being targeted. Dental x-rays don’t need much radiation because they are only imaging teeth and bone that’s right at the surface. It’s also a very small area, unlike the dose that would be needed to image a spine or chest. Also, certain areas of the body are more sensitive to radiation damage. That’s why we cover the neck (thyroid) and front of the body with the protective apron.

If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to us about them. You can also read more about the use of dental x-rays in kids on the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s article on the importance of diagnostic x-rays. We don’t take x-rays of every child at every appointment. We only use them when needed to determine the extent of a problem or to monitor growth.