Why Does Your Dentist Take X-Rays?

Dental technology has come a long way in a short period of time. Each visit with your dentist in Reston, they are sure to take images of your mouth, but you’re not sure why, and you don’t even know if the machine is safe. These images can help dental professionals find problems that may not be exhibiting any symptoms and are hidden under the surface, not visible to the naked eye. Read on to learn why dental X-rays are so important, and how dental technology has advanced over the years.


Depending on a variety of factors, you may or may not get an X-ray each time you visit your dentist for your checkup and cleaning. If you’re more susceptible to developing gum disease and tooth decay because of your dental history, are showing signs of oral disease, or are a certain age, X-rays can happen more frequently to help keep a close eye on any issues. They can identify problems that would otherwise be difficult to spot, such as:

  • Bone decay
  • Swelling
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Impacted teeth


Children typically need to have dental X-rays more often to monitor the growth of their permanent teeth and to prevent any complications while their mouths are developing. Also, if you’re a new patient, you can most likely expect that you’ll have an X-ray taken.


Many patients are hesitant about radiation exposure when it comes to X-rays because they aren’t sure how the technology has evolved over the years. Nowadays, digital X-rays are completely safe for patients of all ages because their radiation levels are so low. It is important to address that pregnancy is the exception to this, and that anybody who believes they’re pregnant should avoid X-rays altogether. Be sure to let your dentist know ahead of time.

At your dentist’s office, they’ll place a lead vest across your body usually before you have your cleaning. They’ll move the machine along your head and snap images of your mouth. Depending on your procedure, oral condition, or age, they may use a certain type of X-ray.


There are different types of dental X-rays that are helpful when your dentist needs a specific view of your mouth. Your dental hygienist will give you instructions for the process and answer any questions you may have at the time. Some different types of X-rays that they may choose from include:

  • You’ll need to bite down on a special material so your dentist can see how your crown and teeth come together. This is typically used to help find cavities between teeth.
  • Your jaw will be closed during this X-ray to spot any bite issues.
  • The machine will move around your head to capture a full image of your mouth to spot jaw problems, spot impacted wisdom teeth, and see if you’re a good candidate for implants.


These are just a few common types of X-rays you may receive from your dentist. They help spot hidden problems under the surface and prevent small issues that may not be showing any symptoms from causing your pain or discomfort down the road. For questions about the process, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist during your next checkup and cleaning!

For questions or to schedule an appointment for a checkup and cleaning, visit Smiles by Myles’ website or contact (703) 925-0800.


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