DENTAL EXAM AND X-RAYS
Dental Exam and X-Rays
Receiving oral exams and dental x-rays on a regular basis is the best way to catch problems early on while they are still easily manageable. Dental issues such as cavities and gingivitis are very common and easily treatable initially with fillings or standard cleaning. However if these problems are left unchecked until symptoms arise then the damage may be too great to repair with simple procedures.
Dr. Eckel and his Dental Hygienist will review your digital dental x-rays and perform an exam to check the health of your teeth and gums as well as examining any previous dental work to ensure its continued performance. Your regular dental checkup is a great time to ask any questions you may have about your oral health and review tips and techniques for good brushing and flossing habits to keep your smile as healthy as possible between visits.
What is a Dental Exam?
Also referred to as a dental checkup, an oral exam is a close examination of the mouth and teeth for pathology. Dr. Eckel will be inspecting you for oral cancer, gingivitis, periodontitis, cavities, abscess infections, malocclusions, and signs of tooth grinding. Oral exams typically involve the entire mouth as a component of a first-time visit or a regular 6-month check-up.
Types of Dental X-Rays
Dental x-rays are a critical part of the diagnostic process for oral health. There are several types of x-rays that may be required for your visit. The main categories of x-rays are:
These x-rays show the upper and lower back teeth in a single view. These images will show cavities, calculus buildup, and bone loss. Bitewing x-rays are recommended on an annual basis.
Commonly referred to as "PAs", these x-rays will show the entire tooth from the exposed crown to the end of the root and surrounding bone that support the tooth. These x-rays are used to find dental problems below the gum line or in the jaw such as impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and bone changes linked to some diseases.
This type of x-ray is used for visualizing the entire upper and lower jaws including teeth, sinuses, and TMJ. These images are a screening tool for diagnosing wisdom tooth impactions, boney pathogy, and early identification of congenitally missing teeth. Panoramic x-rays are usually only takenonce every 5 years.
Cone Beam Computed Tomography
CBCT x-rays are used to see a 3-dimensional image of the jaw bones and teeth. This x-ray is only used for planning implant surgery. Cone beam images allow Dr. Dekcl to plan exactly where and how to place an implant. By digitally planning the procedure he is able to determine the ideal size (length and diameter) implant needed to be placed.
Are Digital Dental X-Rays Safe?
Our x-ray equipment is fully digital at Green Hills Smiles which means that any radiation associated with these images is lower than with conventional (film) x-rays. Humans are exposed to radiation of varying types and degrees during their lifetime from airport and other security screens, to sunshine and home appliances. Dental x-rays, when combined with our protective measures such as lead shielding, involve present an extremely minimal exposure to radiation. To illustrate just how small a dose of radiation dental x-rays impart, let's compare them to other sources of radiation. The following example are measured in microsieverts.
13,000 uSv 50,000 uSv
eating one banana
single digital dental x-ray
background dose, average elevation in US/week
living in a stone, brick, or concrete building/yr
round-trip flight from NY to LA
natural potassium in the body/yr
background dose, average elevation in the US/yr
medical CT-scan of the abdomen
cooking with natural gas (from radon) daily/yr
smoking one pack of cigarettes daily/yr
radiation worker one year dose limit set by the US National council on Radiation Exposure and the USFDA
Cost and Insurance Coverage for Oral Exams and Dental X-Rays
The cost of oral exams and x-rays vary and depend on multiple factors including frequency and type of x-ray needed. Dr. Eckel will review with you what type and frequency of x-rays and exams are needed to maintain your optimal oral health.
If you have dental insurance, your coverage often includes preventative care including regular exams and x-rays. Typically these services will be covered at 100% by your insurance company. Our staff are happy to review your coverage with you to ensure that you are maximizing your insurance benefits while minimizing any out of pocket expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Checkups and X-Rays
Can I bring x-rays from another dental or specialty practice?
Yes. It is possible to transfer records from one dental practice to another. You may be asked to provide permission to transfer your records, or you can bring them with you. It is important to note that x-rays are a critical component of proper diagnostics, and even with electronic transfer of digital x-rays there may be some loss of image quality. Dr. Eckel will review the records and let you know if additional x-rays may be needed for diagnostic purposes.
Can I refuse to have dental x-rays?
Yes and no. As a patient you are fully in control over your oral health. However, it is impossible to have a complete exam without x-rays which are necessary to become a regular patient. This does not mean that new x-rays are required yearly though. If Dr. Eckel feels that you are at low risk for dental pathology then x-rays can be updated more infrequently.
Are dental x-rays safe during pregnancy?
The rule of thumb for x-ray exposure and dental treatment in general is to only do what is necessary for emergency treatment. Typically if a patient is pregnant and has no significant dental issues then x-rays will be foregone until the patient is no longer pregnant. For a pregnant patient that does have a dental emergency then x-rays would be used as necessary to treat the patient. A lead apron is used during the procedure to ensure the safety of the baby as well as the mother.