Basic Facts About Radiographs (X-Rays)

Idaho Falls X-Rays, Machen Family Dentistry


  • Dental Radiographs are commonly called x-rays. Dr. Machen uses radiographs for many reasons: to find hidden dental structures, malignant or benign masses, bone loss, and cavities. Usually x-rays are taken every 6mo-1 year at the Dr’s discretion.
  • The dosage of X-ray radiation received by a dental patient is typically small (around 0.150 mSv for a full mouth series, according to the American Dental Association website).
  • Dr. Machen uses the most up-to-date digital x-rays, which replace the film with an electronic sensor. They require less radiation and are processed much more quickly than conventional radiographic films since they are instantly viewable on a computer.
  • This preoperative photo of a tooth (A), reveals no clinically apparent decay other than a small spot within the central fossa. In fact, decay could not be detected with an explorer. Radiographic evaluation, (B), however, revealed an extensive region of demineralization within the dentin (arrows) of the mesial half of the tooth. When a bur was used to remove the occlusal enamel overlying the decay, (C), a large hollow was found within the crown and it was discovered that a hole in the side of the tooth large enough to allow the tip of the explorer to pass was contiguous with this hollow. After all of the decay had been removed, (D), the pulp chamber had been exposed and most of the mesial half of the crown was either missing or poorly supported.
  • It is possible for both tooth decay and periodontal disease to be missed during a clinical exam, and radiographic evaluation of the dental and periodontal tissues is a critical segment of the comprehensive oral examination.