Dental radiographs, more commonly known as “x-rays,” are helpful diagnostic tools that your dentist uses to check on the health of your teeth and bone levels. There are a few different types of x-rays used for diagnosis. The first and most common type of x-rays are called bitewing x-rays. You typically have these taken annually at your checkup visit. These are used to check the bone levels and look for cavities in between the teeth in the posterior (back teeth). It is great to have these taken yearly to compare with the previous years x-rays to see if anything has changed or a new cavity has developed.
Another common type of x-ray used in the dental world is called a full mouth series (FMS or FMX). This is exactly what it sounds like, a complete set of x-rays of all of the teeth in your mouth including the posterior (back teeth), anterior (front teeth) and bitewings. Typically, this type of x-rays are only taken every 3-5 years. They are great at checking the overall health of your teeth and looking for anomalies that you may have not noticed otherwise. They are also helpful so that if you ever come in with a toothache or broken tooth, it is easy to compare back to the FMX and see what has changed.
Another common type of x-ray used is called a panoramic x-ray. This is a 2D macro view of your entire jaw and all the teeth in it. This shows your top and bottom jaw, all the teeth in your mouth, along with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This is helpful to view your wisdom teeth as many patients have impacted wisdom teeth that can only be seen in an x-ray because they are not visible when you look inside the mouth. This type of x-ray is also helpful for viewing bone levels for possible implant placement. Typically, this kind of x-ray is also taken every 3-5 years.
Based on this, you should only really need to have x-rays taken every 3-5 years, with bitewings annually. The exception to this would be if you came in with a toothache. Then, a periapical (PA) would be taken. A PA is an x-ray taken of a single tooth that is able to show if there is a cavity or infection in the apex/root of the tooth.This can then be compared to an FMX of the same tooth to diagnose a cavity or infection.
If you are in the Kinston, NC area and looking for a dentist, please contact us at Carlyle Dental! We would be happy to serve your dental needs.