Early tooth decay does not tend to show many physical signs. Sometimes the tooth looks healthy, but your dentist will be able to see from an x-ray (radiograph)whether you have any decay under the enamel, any possible infections in the roots, or any bone loss around the tooth. X-rays can help the dentist to see in between your teeth or under the edge of your fillings. Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save both time and money.In children, x-rays can be used to show where the second teeth are and when they will come through. This also applies to adults when the wisdom teeth start to come through.
X-rays can show decay that may not normally be seen directly in the mouth, for example: under a filling, or between teeth. They can show whether you have an infection in the root of your tooth and how severe the infection is.In children an x-ray can show any teeth that haven't come through yet, and let the dentist see whether there is enough space for the teeth to come through. In adults, it can show any impacted wisdom teeth that may need to be removed, before they cause any problems.
You should always tell your dentist if you are pregnant. They will take extra care and will probably not use x-rays unless they really have to, particularly during the first three months.
There are various types of x-ray. Some show one or two teeth and their roots while others can take pictures of several teeth at once. The most common x-rays are small ones, which are taken regularly to keep a check on the condition of the teeth and gums. These show a few teeth at a time, but include the roots and surrounding areas. There are large x-rays that show the whole mouth, including all the teeth and the bone structure that supports the teeth. These are called panoramic X-rays.There are also medium-sized X-rays, which show either one jaw at a time, or else one side of the face. There are also electronic imaging systems in use today. These use electronic probes instead of X-ray films and the picture is transmitted directly onto a screen.