Digital Radiography

Digital Radiography

Dental X-rays

X-rays are essential in helping your dentist to fully evaluate your oral condition and diagnose some dental conditions that are not visible to the naked eye. Interproximal, periapical and panoramic radiographs are the most common X-rays used in the dental office. 3D scans or other types of X-rays are used to detect dental problems in the jaw and skull.

Interproximal X-rays

This type of X-ray is used to detect cavities between the teeth. It is interesting to note that it is often impossible for the dentist to see inter-dental cavities with the naked eye. These X-rays are used to assess several other conditions such as dental fractures, the state of restorations that are already in place and the health of the bone supporting the teeth. Interproximal X-rays are prescribed according to the age, medical condition and oral health of the patient. In general, they are prescribed in children as soon as the primary molars are in close contact and the detection of cavities between teeth becomes difficult without X-rays. Also, the mouth of the child has to be large enough to accommodate the X-ray device (normally from the age of 4 or 5 years old). In healthy adults with few dental restorations or a low susceptibility to tooth decay, these radiographs will be prescribed only once a year. This period may vary according to the health history, oral hygiene habits and dental condition of the patient at the time of examination.

Periapical X-rays

This type of X-ray is used to detect any unusual changes in the root and surrounding bone structures. Periapical X-rays also allow evaluating several other conditions such as root fractures, infections at the root tip, healing of root canal treatments, condition of a dental implant, etc. The “Ordre des dentistes du Québec” recommends a radiograph for monitoring the healing of a root canal therapy one year after the completion of the treatment. These x-rays are prescribed according to the age, medical condition and oral health of the patient. In general, healthy adults who had few restorations or root canal treatments should have these X-rays taken every 5 years during a full dental check-up unless a special situation arises. The frequency may vary according to the health history, oral hygiene habits and dental condition of the patient at the time of examination.

Panoramic X-rays

This type of X-ray provides valuable information about the maxillary sinuses, tooth positioning and other bone abnormalities. It shows visible, impacted, and developing teeth as well as joints, jaw bones, base of the skull and several other structures. It is important to know that your dentist is trained to diagnose conditions affecting other anatomical structures than your teeth. For example, your dentist can detect sinus or bone cysts, cancerous tumors, fractures, carotid calcifications and more. In children, a panoramic radiograph is taken at around the age of 7 and allows the dentist to assess the position and number of permanent teeth that are developing in the jawbone. This information is important to diagnose the absence of one or several permanent teeth, a rather common condition. The decision to repair or extract primary teeth may be influenced by the knowledge that some permanent teeth are missing or that there is a lack of space to accommodate all of the adult teeth.

A panoramic X-ray taken at around the age of 11 helps to evaluate the position and orientation of permanent teeth (especially the canines). These teeth play a very important role in chewing. Unfortunately, they are often impacted (fail to erupt into the dental arch). A panoramic X-ray can reveal the likelihood of having impacted canines. Minor procedures such as the extraction of some primary teeth often help the eruption of certain impacted teeth.

Panoramic X-rays give an overview of the developing dentition

In teenagers, a panoramic radiograph taken between the ages of 15 and 18 is useful for assessing the development, position and eruption of the wisdom teeth. If a wisdom tooth appears to have no space to erupt properly in the mouth and if an extraction is necessary, the dentist will recommend the appropriate age to perform the procedure, which will reduce the risk of complications.

Finally, this image allows the identification of several other conditions related to teeth or bones such as fractures of the jaws, infections at root tips, health status of the bone surrounding a dental implant, healing of an extraction site, etc. If additional details are required for the diagnosis, other types of X-rays (inter-proximal, periapical, 3D scan) can be prescribed. In general, healthy adults should have these X-rays taken every 5 years during a full dental check-up unless a special situation arises. The frequency may vary according to the health history, oral hygiene habits and dental condition of the patient at the time of examination.

3D VOLUMETRIC CT SCAN

This type of X-ray is used to diagnose more complex cases and to prescribe appropriate treatments, such as the placement of dental implants, an assessment of the quantity and quality of bone, major jaw surgeries, etc. Devices necessary for this type of X-rays are expensive and involve a greater dose of radiation. They are not available in every practice and are only used in very specific cases.

X-ray risks

A dental examination is not complete without X-rays. However, dentists understand the health effects from excessive radiation exposure. Be assured that they keep X-rays to a minimum and only prescribe what is necessary to make an accurate diagnosis. Thus, the frequency and type of X-rays are always tailored to each patient’s individual condition.

Digital radiography

In order to reduce your exposure to X-rays and to get high-quality images, we use digital radiography for panoramic and intraoral views. Using digital radiography results in a 5-fold reduction in the radiation dose compared to traditional X-rays. These devices also have the advantage of not requiring environmentally harmful chemicals for the development of the film. Thanks to the large screens in each examination room, our patients can see the radiographs, understand their oral condition and be able to discuss it with their dentist.