Learn More About Dental X-Rays and Safety

Dental X-rays are radiographs or images of your mouth that help to evaluate your oral health. These are essentially preventive and diagnostic tools that provide valuable information otherwise not visible to the naked eye. These X-rays help identify problems like tooth decay, bone loss, and impacted wisdom teeth. Dentists use these images to develop a treatment plan, since problematic areas may go undetected without the X-ray images.

Tukwila dentist provide at-clinic X-ray facilities that help them detect dental problems which can be easily correlated with your symptoms, to design an appropriate treatment plan. These X-ray images also aid in preventive measures to avoid any untoward dental problems in the future.

What are dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays are a type of radiographic image of your teeth and mouth. These are a form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have the ability to penetrate your body to form an image on film or screen. X-rays can either be developed on a film or they can be digital.

They produce images in such a way that different structures appear in a unique way:

  • Dense structures such as metal restorations appear white in the image
  • Teeth, tissues, and fluids appear as shades of gray
  • Structures that contain air appear black

Why are dental X-rays used?

Dental X-rays are used to diagnose diseases affecting the teeth and bones that cannot be detected easily through the naked eye. These may be used to identify:

  • Dental abscesses or cysts
  • Bone loss caused by periodontal disease 
  • Benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors 
  • Tooth decay in the interdental areas
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Abnormal tooth or root positions
  • Any tooth problem present subgingivally (below the gum line)
  • Jaw fractures
  • Bone lesions
  • Occlusion problems

Are dental X-rays safe?

Dental X-rays are considered safe since the radiation risk is quite low. Dentists usually take all the necessary precautions to limit your exposure to radiation when taking dental X-rays. These include:

  • Using lead apron shields to protect the body
  • Using modern, fast film to  limit the exposure time of each X-ray

The amount of radiation produced by a full set of dental X-rays is comparatively lesser than the amount absorbed from other things like TVs, computers, and smartphones.

However, repeated dental X-rays should be avoided since this may expose you to a large dose of radiation and may even increase your cancer risk.


Dental X-rays are excellent preventive, and diagnostic tools to help detect dental abnormalities. This aids the dentists design an appropriate treatment plan for your needs. Though they are safe, care should be taken to use this tool only when required, since repeated X-rays can increase your cancer risk. 

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Carina Prinz