Your dentist will often take new x-rays when you come in for exams and cleanings. This is typically done once per year. Then, with each new set of x-rays, your dentist will compare them. He or she needs to see what things have changed over the last year. This can help them spot problems as early as possible. By comparing the two sets of x-rays side by side, small changes can be noted, and if nothing is present currently, your dentist can make a note of the change in your chart. This will let them know to keep a close eye on it in the future.
The Point of Comparing X-Rays for Your Teeth
X-rays are an important comparison tool that is used to help diagnose problems in your mouth. During exams, your dentist takes a close look at your teeth. When they look over your teeth, they are looking for any sign of a problem. This is important for diagnostics as well. However, there is no way for your dentist to see what is going on inside your teeth with just their eyes. This is where x-rays come in. They allow your dentist to see exactly what is going on inside your teeth. Sometimes your dentist may see a small spot in one of your teeth, but it may be too small to do anything with. However, it does allow your dentist to keep an eye on that spot.
By looking at the two most recent sets of x-rays side by side, your dentist can notice if your teeth have shifted in or out of place. Teeth that move are under some type of pressure. This can be pressure from teeth that have not come in yet, pressure from swelling that comes from gum disease or an abscess, or it can be pressure from one of your teeth being out of alignment. Even slight changes allow your dentist to keep track of problem areas in your mouth that may not be visually apparent yet.
They Also Look at the Bones
Your dentist is also looking at the bony structures of your mouth when they look at your x-rays. Part of what is being examined is your jaw. When you suffer from gum disease or tooth loss, your jaw bone begins to reabsorb. This means that your jaw bone is becoming less structurally sound, and that you are losing both bone density and bone quality. The only way to treat this is to know that it is going on. When your dentist looks at where your jaw bone was a year ago and where it is now, they have proof if your jaw is deteriorating. If it is, they need to get you set up with the best type of treatment to fix this issue. The treatment you may need is going to depend on what is causing the deterioration. If it is gum disease, then you will need periodontal treatment. If your bone loss stems from tooth loss, then you may need a partial or even a dental implant.
Make sure your dentist keeps taking annual x-rays. The benefits they get from regular comparison allows you to get the best oral health possible. Don’t hold back on asking about your x-rays. Your dentist should be showing them to you when they are taken anyway. They can show you signs of current problems, plus they can also show you things they are keeping an eye on that could become a problem in the future. For more information, talk to your dentist about what they look for when they look at your x-rays. Their insight can help you understand how to better your own oral health.