Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

Types of Dental X-Rays & How X-Rays Benefit Your Child

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published January 4, 2017

While there has been controversy whether or not dental X-rays are safe for your child, you’ll be happy to know dental X-rays are very safe and expose your child to a minimal amount of radiation. There are five types of X-rays your pediatric dentist may use for your child, depending on the situation.

Cavity-Detecting X-Rays (Bite-Wing X-Rays)

Bite-wing X-rays are the most common type of X-rays for children taken by your dentist. The X-rays are used to view areas between teeth that cannot be seen directly by the dentist. They often discover where cavities begin to form.

Periapical X-Rays

The periapical X-ray is used to view the entire crowns and roots of the tooth as well as your child’s bone structure below the baby teeth. It can also be used to look for gum disease and abscesses.

Panoramic X-Rays

When your child gets a panoramic X-ray you will be able to see a picture of the entire mouth and jaw bones in one X-ray. The main point of a panoramic X-ray is to view all of the teeth, erupted and unerupted, as well as infections, tumors, cysts, bone structure abnormalities, and fractures. It is most commonly used to evaluate a child’s development and when planning for treatments such as braces, implants, and dentures.

Panoramic X-rays are taken using a film inside of a machine that moves around the outside of your mouth, face, and neck. Pediatric dentists recommend they should be taken every 3-5 years to inspect the mouth for problems with the teeth or jaw bones.

Orthodontic X-Rays (Cephalometric X-Rays)

Like the panoramic X-ray, orthodontic X-rays are extraoral, meaning no plates or film are inserted inside the mouth. Orthodontic X-rays display a complete radiographic image of the side of the face and provide views of the jaw bones in relation to each other, identify fractures and other injuries to the teeth and jaw bone, and assist in orthodontic planning.

Why X-Rays Are Important for Your Child

Dental X-rays are used as a tool for dentists to assist them in evaluating the development of your child’s jaw structure and teeth. X-rays can help the dentist in many different ways including the following:

  • Examine how your child’s teeth are erupting
  • Detect the number, size and position of teeth still located under the gums
  • Determine if there are missing or extra teeth
  • Monitor teeth and mouth injuries
  • Prepare for braces or other orthodontic treatment
  • Diagnose cavities in between teeth

Children’s Dental X-Rays at Pediatric Dentistry in Des Moines and Ankeny

There is no specific timeframe on when children will need X-rays. It varies with every individual child’s development and dental health. If you are wondering whether or not your child needs dental X-rays, don’t hesitate to ask any of our dentists at Pediatric Dentistry.

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