Going to the dentist is rarely a fun-filled activity, though it is necessary to keep a healthy smile. And once you get your bill at the end of the appointment or a few days later in the mail, you inevitably wonder why you feel the need to be such a masochist. However, going to the dentist is important and actually keeps the decay from forming too permanently on your teeth and inside your gums. No one would blame you though if you had second thoughts about making another appointment or requesting to opt out of the x-rays that you get each year. Though these x-rays may look like just another cost on your bill, they do serve a great purpose for your Dentist in San Bernardino, CA.
Periapical, or PA, x-rays are the most commonly used x-rays for when the dentist is sure there is a problem. This x-ray shows the tooth from the crown to the tip of the root. If a tooth is bumped or cracked, this x-ray will show if there is any damage to the roots. If a root has been broken, it is likely that an infection will develop. This may show up as a pocket of painful puss. This infection, if left alone, can travel to the rest of the teeth in the jaw and cause extensive damage.
These x-rays are also used for the front top and bottom teeth. When a child gets his or her first x-rays, they will usually be periapical, since they probably only have their front teeth.
Bitewings are the most commonly used x-rays for general cleaning when there is no indication of a cavity. This x-ray goes between the biting surfaces of each side of the jaw. The dentist will be able to view the spaces between each tooth. When a dentist looks into your mouth, he or she can see the cavities forming on the biting surface and the surfaces near the cheeks and tongue. The dentist cannot, however, see between the teeth with his or her naked eye. With the bitewings, the dentist is able to see the triangle shaped dark spots between the teeth that are cavities. It is important to keep an eye on the progression of these cavities, since one cavity can easily move from one tooth to another adjacent tooth.
These x-rays can be hard to get with very small children and people who have a sensitive gag reflex. The x-ray sensor is fairly big for a child’s mouth, and has to be bitten on while standing upright within the teeth. For this reason, dentists will only take these pictures in children’s mouths when their back molars begin to touch each other. By this time, their jaw should be large enough to take the picture, and it is important to keep an eye on the teeth when the gaps between them begin to close.
The panoramic x-rays are the easiest x-rays to take and the most comfortable. The patient simply has to stand there while the machine turns around his or her head. However, they typically are only taken every few years while the permanent teeth are growing in. This allows your Dentist in San Bernardino, CA, to accurately gauge when braces should be put on, if wisdom teeth should be removed, or if there are any missing teeth.