Regular dental exams are an important part of your overall health care. During a dental exam, your Scripps Ranch dentist with the help of x-rays will evaluate for developed cavities as well as risk of developing future tooth decay. In addition the dentist or the hygienist will identify gum inflammation and bone loss.   The dentist will also evaluate for other oral health problems as well as other face and neck abnormalities.

During dental exams the dentist will start out by reviewing your medical and dental history. We will follow  with a full set of x-rays and an examination of teeth and gums.   After our findings we will discuss them with you making sure to discuss your insurance benefits. We believe in spending quality time with our patients, so expect to spend at least one hour with us for the exam.  Dental cleaning are not always performed on your first appointment. Since we do not know the condition of your gums, we do not know how much time to schedule for your cleaning. We never want to rush a treatment.

dental x-rays play a part in dental exams

Digital X-Rays during Dental Exams

Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays by you Scripps Ranch dentist. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.

Dental x-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during regular dental exams. Dentists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected. With x-rays we help you maintain healthy teeth and gums for life.

Dental x-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses (infections) or cysts.
  • Bone loss.
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
  • Decay between the teeth.
  • Developmental abnormalities.
  • Poor tooth and root positions.
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
  • Problems that older x-ray systems will miss.

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth. With digital x-rays we can see cavities before they get large. In the past, traditional x-rays would only show large cavities therefore leading to very aggressive treatments such as root canals and crowns. Today we can diagnose at the early onset of disease ,and either through early prevention or early treatment ,we can save on cost and time.

Are dental x-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.

Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.

How often should dental x-rays be taken?

The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, previous dental exams, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.

As a rule, new patients will receive a full series of x-rays. Patients with history of decay or gum disease will have minimal x-rays taken every six months until they are clear of disease for a duration of one year. Those without history of decay or those who have zero incidence of decay for a duration of one year will have minimal x-rays taken at one year intervals. X-rays need to be taken for diagnosis. Without x-rays, disease is often times missed.. X-rays must be taken when needed. There are only a few instances where we avoid taking any x-rays. this is during the first three months of pregnancy. Although we minimally take x-rays after the first trimester, it is believed to be safe.

Decay often does not hurt until it hits the nerve. Root canals can be avoided if caught early. Many old x-ray systems will not catch the decay till it is too late. At Oasis Dental Arts we use the newest technology and follow recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA) and California Dental Association (CDA).