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Do I Need an Annual Dental X-Ray?

When you attend a routine dentist appointment, the dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of potential issues. This evaluation can help to prevent dental emergencies while ensuring you continue to have good oral health. But despite the value of this exam, your dentist will still recommend that you also receive a dental x-ray once a year.

While a dentist can see a great deal during a visual exam, x-ray imaging allows a dentist to view more of your smile, including the interior of the teeth and the jaw, so that you can maximize preventative dental care. This scan is perfectly safe for patients of all ages.

But you may feel more comfortable undergoing this scan when you understand the advantages it offers. Read on to discover three oral health benefits that a routine dental x-ray can provide for your smile.

Do I Need an Annual Dental X-Ray

Identify Tooth Decay

Most of us will develop at least one cavity in our lives. This early form of tooth decay occurs when natural oral bacteria penetrate a weak spot in the tooth enamel to eat a hole in the tooth’s surface.

The tooth might feel sensitive if you have a cavity. And in many cases, decay will present with white or brown discoloration on the tooth’s surface. So dentists can identify these cavities during a visual exam and treat them accordingly.

But not all cavities are easily spotted this way. Sometimes they develop between teeth where a dentist cannot see them. Cavities will show up clearly on a dental x-ray though.

A dentist can diagnose tooth decay easily when you have a dental x-ray. Then they can treat the cavity with a dental filling before the decay progresses and causes more extensive damage to your tooth.

Evaluate Tooth Pulp Health

Damage might accrue in the pulp of your teeth without your notice. Sometimes a blow to the face or chronic wear and tear might hurt the blood vessels within this inner layer of the tooth. If the tooth does not receive enough blood flow, the pulp can become non-vital.

Sometimes you feel pain or see a dull color in the tooth if this problem arises in the pulp. But you also might not notice any symptoms at all. A dental x-ray can show problems and blockages in these interior blood vessels though.

Then the dentist will test the sensation within the tooth to confirm the diagnosis of non-vital pulp. This does not warrant emergency dental treatment necessarily. But the dentist will want to keep an eye on the tooth as it will be vulnerable to infections and other problems. An infected tooth will require urgent root canal therapy to amend and stop the spread of more dental damage.

Monitor Tooth Growth

Most dental patients see the full growth of their permanent teeth by adolescence. But teeth might shift their positions over time for a number of reasons. A dental x-ray can easily note changes, including crookedness or bite problems, in your teeth alignment. Then the dentist can intervene to straighten your smile and protect its position.

The dental x-ray can also keep an eye on wisdom teeth, an extra set of molars that many people have. These teeth can wreak havoc on your smile if you do not have room for them. The dentist can extract wisdom teeth before they cause problems when they monitor them through x-ray imaging.