Why Dentists Take Dental X-Rays

Why Dentists Take Dental X-Rays

Why Dentists Take X-Rays
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Many people wonder why it’s so important for their dentist to take x-rays of their teeth.  To understand why, let’s take a quick look at what x-rays do.

You can think of x-rays as invisible light that passes through your mouth and is projected onto a sensor.  As the x-rays pass through your mouth, they are absorbed differently depending on what they pass through.  For example, the x-rays pass through teeth differently than they pass through gum tissue.

This difference is what allows dentists to see the different parts of your mouth on an x-ray.  X-rays are able to detect hidden things that your dentist cannot see by simply looking in your mouth.

There are several reasons why your dentist may want to take x-rays of your mouth.  Hopefully the list below will clue you in on why exactly your dentist wants to get dental x-rays taken.

10 Reasons Why Dentists Take X-Rays

Why Dentists Take Dental X-Rays1 – To Check for Cavities

X-rays allow dentists to see cavities that are between two teeth, which might otherwise remain undiagnosed.  X-rays also allow dentists to see cavities that have formed where a previous dental restoration such as a filling (they don’t last forever) or a crown (yep, you can get a cavity under a crown.)

Learn about six common places where you can get a cavity.

2 – To Determine If You Have Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for older adults.

3 – To Check for Abscesses and Cysts

An x-ray can show your dentist if you have any abscesses or cysts in your jawbone near the roots of your teeth.

4 – To Monitor Wisdom Teeth

A panoramic dental x-ray is a great way to see all four of your wisdom teeth.  It can help the dentist determine if there will be any problems with them when they come in or if your wisdom teeth need to be extracted.

Learn why dentists extract wisdom teeth.

Lateral Cephalometic X-Ray
A lateral cephalometric x-ray used to evaluate jaw growth

5 – To Detect Oral Diseases & Tumors

Many diseases remain hidden to the naked eye.  X-rays allow dentists to get an inside look at your jawbone to detect any hidden tumors or diseases that may be lurking under the bone.  For example, an odontogenic keratocyst, is a tumor in the jaw bone shows up on an x-ray.

Also, a panoramic x-ray gives the dentist a good view of the sinuses, which can help the dentist determine if the true cause of your toothache is a sinus infection.

6 – To Make Sure They are Providing Quality Dental Work

Dentists take x-rays at various points during certain dental procedures to ensure that you get the best treatment possible.  For example, during a root canal, your dentist may take a few different x-rays to ensure that they have fully cleaned out your infected root canal and put in a root filling that will allow your tooth to remain healthy for many years into the future.

7 – To Evaluate Injured Teeth

When ever a tooth gets knocked loose or even knocked out, it can often be stabilized.  Dental x-rays are a vital part of this process as they let the dentist know whether or not the tooth was stabilized in its proper position.  Dental x-rays also allow your dentist to monitor the injured tooth over the next several years to ensure that it remains healthy.

In the case of an injured baby tooth, dental x-rays can also allow a dentist to see if it’s likely that the developing permanent tooth under the baby tooth was damaged.

8 – To See Developmental Abnormalities of the Teeth

X-rays can help a dentist visualize any developmental abnormalities of the teeth, such as gemination or fusion, commonly known as double teeth.

9 – To Evaluate Jaw Growth

Orthodontists use x-rays a lot to make sure that the jaws are growing to their proper size.  If abnormal growth patterns are caught in time, orthodontists can manipulate jaw growth to a more normal growth pattern through the use of appliances such as head gear.

10 – To Evaluate You For Dental Work

Many dentists take x-rays to ensure that you can receive certain types of dental work.  For example, a dentist wouldn’t want to give you a bridge if the adjacent teeth aren’t strong enough to support it.

Also, x-rays can be used to evaluate patients before they receive dental implants to ensure that there is an adequate amount of bone present and that the bone is healthy.


Your dentist may want to take x-rays of your mouth for a variety of reasons.

I think that the American Dental Association best sums up the importance of dental x-rays when they state, “Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort. Radiographs can help your dentist detect problems in your mouth that otherwise would not be seen.”

Do you have any questions about why dentists take x-rays? Go ahead and leave them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!


  1. My dentist wants a second opinion at the hospital cause of a light grey shede on xray..what can it be …worried..

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