If you see a dentist regularly, you know that dentists like to have updated dental x-rays once per year. The amount of radiation you receive in a traditional dental x-ray is small, but they help us discover otherwise invisible changes that may have occurred in your teeth.

Dental x-rays help us assess the overall health of your teeth and show us where cavities may have formed. They also reveal cracks and other hidden damage and help us assess the condition of your gums, tooth roots and nerves.

Like many other dental technologies, dental x-rays are also changing. There are some big benefits to these changes for both doctors and patients. Here’s a look at what you can expect from our updated approach to taking dental x-rays.

Traditional X-rays

Although you’ve probably had x-rays before, you may not know what they are. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation. They fall on the light spectrum between ultra-violet light and gamma rays, which means they’re not visible to our eyes. To produce an x-ray, the x-ray machine excites electrons to the point that they escape from an atom. This is known as ionizing radiation because it creates positively charged ions. Radiation can penetrate soft tissues, but it does not penetrate bone and teeth. When we direct x-rays through soft tissue onto films, they reveal bone and other hard structures hidden in the body.

In large amounts, radiation is not good for humans. In very small amounts – like what you receive in a dental x-ray – radiation can help us evaluate and diagnose teeth.

Dental x-rays are invaluable diagnostic tools for dentists. They help us evaluate the overall health of your teeth and gums. They also help us see between teeth, where cavities can form. X-rays also help us see developing teeth in children, evaluate tooth roots and measure the effects of periodontal disease.

Most dental patients are very familiar with intraoral dental x-rays. We place a sensor in your mouth and expose it to a very small amount of radiation. These x-rays become part of your dental treatment record. Over time, we can spot changes in your teeth and recommend treatments earlier.

Bitewing x-raysallow us to assess your molars, their roots and your jawbone. Periapical x-rays show the entire tooth from crown to root. They also show the tissue and bone around the tooth. These x-rays help evaluate the overall health of a tooth and how well it attaches to your jawbone.Panoramic x-rays allow a dentist to see the entire oral cavity in one image. In addition to your teeth, a panoramic x-ray shows the upper and lower jaws and the sinus cavity. It shows how your teeth relate to each other inside your mouth. Panoramic x-rays can also show impactions, tumors, bone loss, wisdom teeth, absesses in the tooth, and abnormalities that can affect your dental health.

DEXIS CariVu

Viewpoint Dentistry uses the DEXIS CariVu caries detection system. This system finds cracks that may have formed in your teeth, as well as hidden decay and other deterioration. Unlike a dental x-ray, the CariVu system uses near-infrared light to illuminate a tooth. Near-infrared light makes healthy tooth enamel translucent. This allows us to see under your tooth enamel, the hard, top layer of your tooth.

Near-infrared light does not penetrate decay and defects, so these areas have a different appearance. We can immediately see diseased areas of your teeth, even before the decay or damage becomes visible. In addition, we can incorporate a CariVu diagnostic exam into a regular hygiene appointment.

CariVu does not replace dental x-rays – we still use those! For patients who do not want to (or can’t) have dental x-rays, CariVu offers a non-ionizing option. We can capture images using the CariVu system. These images become part of your dental care record and enable us to assess the health of your teeth and gums. For patients who do have x-rays, we use them alongside the CariVu system to detect developing areas of decay and cavities between teeth.

The DEXIS CariVu system uses non-ionizing radiation. Unlike the traditional ionizing radiation dental x-ray machines you may be familiar with, non-ionizing radiation does not penetrate deeply into the tissues. It enables us to look at the underlying structure of your teeth – just like a dental x-ray – without the radiation.

The radiation in a dental x-ray is less than the background radiation the Sun produces on any given day. Nonetheless, medical professionals like to carefully limit the amount of radiation exposure patients receive. The DEXIS CariVu system allows us to view your teeth without radiation exposure.

If you would like more information about Viewpoint Dentistry’s CariVu, please call us at (509) 946-9313 to set up an appointment.