One of the most important tools an oral surgeon has is radiography (X-rays). Radiography allows your doctor to view beneath the surface of teeth, gums, and jaws. When diagnosing or preparing a patient for a procedure, X-rays are used to reveal the location of teeth and their roots along with the jaws. There two types of X-rays, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral X-rays focus primarily on the teeth and are used to reveal caries and the condition of developing teeth while extraoral X-rays display the condition of the jaw and skull. Extraoral X-rays can reveal bone and joint abnormalities, the status of impacted teeth, and the development of jawbone growth in younger patients.
Digital imaging of radiography offers a variety of benefits for doctors and patients over traditional, film-based X-rays. When digital radiography is conducted, a sensor captures the X-ray image and displays it in a digital format. Once the image is captured, your doctor can view the results on a computer or television monitor. With the ability to zoom in on certain areas, your oral surgeon can see areas of the oral cavity more closely. Furthermore, digital radiography is a great tool for patient education as well. Our oral surgeon can use the high-resolution displays on monitors to point out the specifics of your condition and offer a thorough explanation of your oral and facial health. After treatment, old and new radiography can be easily compared to determine a patient’s improvement and progress. An additional advantage to digital imaging is easy transfer of patient records to other medical professionals.
In addition to radiography, live and static images from intraoral cameras can be displayed on monitors as well. This is especially useful when oral surgeons are examining teeth and soft oral tissues such as the gums. Intraoral cameras are used to detect oral cancer and check the health of gum tissue—especially at the back of the mouth before oral surgery.
X-ray imaging, including dental CBCT, provides a fast, non-invasive way of answering a number of clinical questions. Dental CBCT images provide three-dimensional (3-D) information, rather than the two-dimensional (2-D) information provided by a conventional X-ray image. This may help with the diagnosis, treatment planning and evaluation of certain conditions.
Although the radiation doses from dental CBCT exams are generally lower than other CT exams, dental CBCT exams typically deliver more radiation than conventional dental X-ray exams. Concerns about radiation exposure are greater for younger patients because they are more sensitive to radiation (i.e., estimates of their lifetime risk for cancer incidence and mortality per unit dose of ionizing radiation are higher) and they have a longer lifetime for ill effects to develop.
The FDA has launched a pediatric X-ray imaging website that provides specific recommendations for parents and health care providers to help reduce unnecessary radiation exposure to children. The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health defines the ages of the pediatric population as birth through 21 years.
By utilizing newer, state-of-the-art technology, our oral surgeons can efficiently review images produced by diagnostic tools and display these images clearly to patients. To learn more about our digital imaging technology or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today.