5 Things You Should Know About Dental X-Rays

Posted November 2, 2022 by in Health + Fitness

When it comes to your oral health, you should always have an active role. Your dentist should always be keeping you informed and empowered with proper dental hygiene.

One of the ways they can do this is by doing an x-ray of one of your teeth. But how much do you know about this x-ray?

In this article, we’re covering what exactly dental x-rays are, how they work, how they benefit you, and what to expect when you get them. By the end of this article, you’ll be a dental x-ray expert!

Dentist going over x-rays with a patient

1. Why They Are Important

By getting a dental x-ray, you are able to get a detailed image of the inside of your teeth and mouth. This helps the dentist determine the condition of your teeth and identify any problems that may be present.

Dental X-rays are an important part of preventive dental care and help ensure that your teeth and mouth remain healthy. They are extremely important for diagnosing and treating dental problems.

They help dentists examine teeth and jaws for potential problems, identify early signs of tooth decay, and spot infections in the gums. Dental X-rays can also be for planning dental treatment, such as braces or tooth extractions.

2. How Often Do You Need Them

Depending on your oral health, your dentist may recommend x-rays every six months to once a year. If you have a history of cavities, your dentist may recommend more frequent x-rays.

Other factors that can affect how often you need x-rays include your age, overall health, and risk for oral disease. They are an important tool that dentists use to detect and treat problems early.

Most people need dental X-rays at least once a year but people with certain conditions, such as gum disease, may need them more often.

3. What They Can Show

There are two types of dental X-rays: intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral X-rays are taken inside the mouth, while extraoral X-rays are taken outside the mouth.

Dental X-rays are a type of radiation that creates images of the teeth and mouth. They help diagnose and treat dental problems.

Dental X-rays can show the following:

  • Tooth decay
  • Tumors or cysts
  • Size and shape of the tooth
  • Location of the tooth in the jawbone
  • Location of the root canal
  • Location of the tooth with respect to the surrounding teeth
  • Presence of any foreign objects in the mouth
  • Determine the density of teeth and bones

You can also learn all about Dental X-Rays by checking out this guide.

4. Risks of the Procedure

It is important to know that dental x-rays emit a very low level of radiation. In fact, the amount of radiation you would receive from a single dental x-ray is very small when compared to the amount of radiation you are exposed to on a daily basis from other sources, such as the sun.

Although the risk of developing cancer from dental x-rays is very low, your dentist will take every precaution to ensure your safety. This includes using a lead apron to protect your body and using a special film holder to position the x-ray film in your mouth.

The x-ray machine will be outside of the lead apron so that you are not exposed to any unnecessary radiation.

5. What to Expect During the Procedure

The procedure is quick and easy, and it is generally well-tolerated by patients. Here is what you can expect during a dental X-ray.

You will be asked to sit in a chair and bite down on a small piece of film. The X-ray machine will be over your teeth, and a few quick X-rays will be taken. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the X-rays are being taken.

Once the procedure is complete, you will be able to see the images of your teeth on the film. Your dentist will review the X-rays and use them to make treatment recommendations.

Preparing for Dental X-Rays

When getting a dental x-ray, it is important to be properly prepared. This means avoiding eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes before the appointment. This will help ensure that the x-ray is clear and accurate. 

Before having a dental x-ray taken, it is important to follow the dentist’s or oral health care professional’s (OHCP) instructions on how to prepare. In some cases, the OHCP may also recommend that you wear a lead apron during the procedure. Lead aprons help to protect your body from the small amount of radiation used during the x-ray.

In addition, it is important to remove any metal objects from the mouth, such as jewelry. This is because metal can interfere with the x-ray. Finally, it is important to stay still during the x-ray. Moving around can make the image blurry.

Practice Good Dental Habits

To maintain healthy teeth and gums, it is important to practice good dental habits. This includes brushing and flossing teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

Eating a balanced diet and avoiding sugary drinks and snacks can also help to keep teeth healthy.


If you’re considering getting dental X-rays, there are a few things you should know. Dental X-rays are a safe and effective way to detect problems with your teeth and gums.

They can also help your dentist determine the best course of treatment for you. Dental X-rays are generally quick and painless, and the radiation exposure is low.