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Ask your dentist to review your x-ray with you if you're unsure about a recommended tooth extraction.
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To keep your teeth and mouth healthy, your dentist has to rely on diagnostic tools. In addition to visual examination of the teeth, various instruments are used for cavity detection. Dental x-rays allow your dentist to see the inside of your teeth and the surrounding bone for a more thorough assessment of your dental health. You will need a current x-ray before having a tooth extracted. This x-ray is an important part of your treatment for several reasons.
A recent x-ray helps your dentist evaluate the condition of the tooth being considered for extraction. He may be able to recommend another treatment option before you have to resort to losing a tooth. If you and your dentist decide that removing a tooth is the best option, an x-ray will help him plan the safest way to remove it. The location and position of the tooth in the jaw, the number of roots and whether they are curved, fractured or fused to the bone influence the type of extraction procedure chosen to remove a tooth.
Detection of Unseen Problems
An x-ray lets your dentist check for an abscess along the root surface or at the tip of the root. This could necessitate the use of antibiotics before the extraction to clear up any infection that might cause complications. An x-ray can also reveal an unsuspected cyst or tumor at the root area of the affected tooth. In this situation, your dentist will take special care when extracting the tooth and the associated cyst or tumor. Any residual parts left behind could become infected and cause future problems.
Types of X-rays Used
The type of x-ray your dentist takes depends on whether you are having a single tooth extracted or multiple teeth. For example, if you are having 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed, your dentist may take a panoramic x-ray that captures all of the teeth and surrounding structures in a single image. A periapical x-ray -- sometimes called an intraoral x-ray -- gives your dentist a very precise image of a single tooth or two adjacent teeth. This type of x-ray shows the tooth from the tip of the crown to the tip of the root along with the surrounding bone.
Safety of Dental X-rays
The level of radiation emitted by modern dental x-rays is very low. With the design of dental x-ray machines and the techniques used, your radiation exposure is minimal. However, the American Dental Association recommends that dentists always use a lead apron to cover your abdominal area and a thyroid collar to cover your neck area. Tell your dentist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, as long as the lead apron is used, you have no reason not to have an x-ray if your dentist feels it is needed.