Dental caries, more commonly known as cavities, develop when the protective coating of the tooth is compromised. The overconsumption of sugar and poor oral hygiene strip away the enamel, leading to tooth decay.
Dentists train to detect tooth decay through a standard oral examination, but a cavity sometimes eludes them. The early signs of tooth decay are not always visible to the naked eye. The dentist may need to use an X-ray to make a diagnosis.
The X-ray is a mainstay in the arsenal of Stockport dentists. It serves an important function in preventative dental care. English practices have been using X-rays for years to provide accurate diagnoses.
Dentists use two general types of X-ray. There are intraoral and extraoral X-rays. Intraoral focuses on the teeth, while extraoral focuses on the jaw and facial area.
Dentists use intraoral X-rays to detect caries. They also use it to assess tooth development and growth placement. There are three types of intraoral X-rays:
- Bite-wing X-ray – Displays upper and lower teeth on the side of the mouth. Shows one ‘wing’ of the biting area. Bite-wing X-rays are ideal for detecting cavities that form between the molars.
- Periapical X-ray – Focuses on a single tooth and includes the crown to the root. It detects problems in the root and bone structure.
- Occlusal X-ray – Shows the upper and lower arch of the entire jaw. It allows the dentist to check tooth development.
Recommended Frequency of Dental X-rays
Most dentists will require a bite-wing X-ray for the early detection of tooth decay. They may occasionally ask for a different X-ray if they discover a more serious issue.
If you visit the dentist frequently and practise thorough dental hygiene, an oral X-ray every two to three years will suffice. A healthy adult will require fewer X-rays, as their permanent teeth are at their most durable stage.
People beyond the age of fifty will require X-rays that are more frequent. Enamel and tooth structure weakens with age, making you more prone to getting cavities. The early detection of tooth decay prevents the need for more invasive dental procedures in the future.