While the old saying may go, “Your eyes are the window to your soul,” it is your mouth that is the window to your health.
The state of your oral health can provide clues about your overall health. Problems with your mouth can result in disease-causing bacteria entering the digestive and respiratory system tracts. In fact, there has been a link to oral health and various diseases and conditions including endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth complications and pneumonia.
The body’s natural defenses alongside good hygiene habits such as daily flossing and brushing help preserve your oral health. It is equally important to have regular dental checkups accompanied by x-rays as part of your oral health care routine.
The basics of dental checkups
A typical dental visit typically involves seeing both a hygienist and a dentist. The hygienist cleans and polishes your teeth and reviews good oral health care practices, while the dentist conducts oral exams, orders x-rays and makes treatment recommendations.
Dentists often say that a checkup is 20% visual and 80% x-rays because many issues that occur within the tooth and gums can’t be seen with the naked eye. Pain only happens when the problem is more severe, and when this happens, it may be too late to save the tooth. X-rays enable dentists to check for problems that can’t always be seen or felt.
It’s recommended that patients have two dental visits a year (every six months), with the main purposes being cleaning and detecting any problems such as decay or gum disease. However, the actual frequency of exams will depend entirely on your age, oral health, history and needs. For example, an individual with previous dental conditions that need monitoring may require more frequent x-rays. Generally, the sooner an oral problem is found, the more manageable it is.
All about x-rays
Dental x-rays or radiographs, are images of your teeth, which dentists use to assess your oral health. Using low levels of radiation, dentists can view images of the interior of your teeth and gums to detect issues such as:
- Decay under a filling or not visible
- An abscess on a tooth root
- Bone loss
- Alignment problems
- Emergence of wisdom teeth
To establish a baseline of oral structure, new patients can expect X-rays to be part of their first exam, while young children whose teeth are still developing may need them once a year. X-rays are also helpful for dentists in various procedures such as implants, fittings, bone grafts, jaw treatments and more.
According to RadiologyInfo.org, “the amount of radiation from one adult chest x-ray is about the same as 10 days of natural background radiation that we are all exposed to as part of our daily living.” While dental X-rays involve radiation, the levels are considered safe for children and adults. A woman who is pregnant or believes that she may be pregnant is the only exception to this rule. To prevent any unnecessary radiation exposure, a lead “bib” is placed over your chest, abdomen and pelvic region.
Take control of your oral health
From regular checkups to dental x-rays, it’s critical to be proactive and consistent with your oral health routine…your overall health depends on it!
The American Dental Association (ADA) encourages dentists and patients to talk collaboratively about dental treatment recommendations, including the need for x-rays, to make informed decisions.
If you’re looking for an experienced and reliable dentist office to partner with you in maintaining your oral health, connect with Wilton Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in CT here.
We look forward to hearing from you!