Dental Uses Of X-RAYS

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered a strange radiation on November 8, 1895 and named it X-radiation because it was not known. In less than one month after his discovery X-rays were being used in medicine for diagnosis. X-ray imaging is widely used by dentists to reveal hidden tooth defects and infections. The images are referred to as dental radiographs. X-ray images are valuable to dentists for locating teeth defects, infections and decay. Dentists also use the images to check if they have correctly performed their interventions.


X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation consisting of X-rays. The wavelengths of the rays range from 0.01 to 10 nanometers. Their energies range from 120 eV to 120 keV. They have longer wavelength than gamma rays and shorter wavelength than ultra-violet rays. X-rays are classified as hard if their wavelengths range from 0.10 to 0.01 nm and soft if their wavelengths range from 10 to 0.10 nm. Hard X-rays are able to penetrate solid objects, a property that makes it extensively used in crystallography and medical diagnostic radiography. They are used to take internal images of objects such as the teeth. The term X-ray is widely used to mean a radiographic image generated using X-rays. Soft X-rays are not able to penetrate objects. X-rays are distinguished from gamma rays using their sources. Gamma rays are produced by the nucleus while X-rays are produced by electrons.

Dental X-ray Image

X-rays are an energy form that travels in waves like light. Hard X-rays can penetrate solid objects where they can be completely absorbed or pass through depending on the wavelength used. They are absorbed by hard objects and easi ly pass through soft objects. The lighter areas of an X-ray image are produced when the rays are blocked and the darker areas are produced when the rays pass though. Bones and teeth are hard and therefore absorb X-rays and produce light areas on the image. X-rays pass through cheeks and gums and produce dark areas on the image. Tooth restorations such as fillings and crowns are harder than teeth and bones. They produce bright white, solid areas on an X-ray image. The soft dental cavities and decay appear as darker areas.

Dental Uses In Adults

For adults, X-rays are used to reveal hidden areas of tooth decay such as small decay pits in between teeth and to locate decay under a filling. They also reveal cracks or similar damage in fillings. They show the dentists bone loss due to gum disease and reveal defects in the root canal such as a dead nerve or infection. Dentists also use the images to plan, prepare and place implants, dentures, braces or other dental int erventions. Other medical problems, such as cancer or cysts can also show on the images.

Dental Uses In Children

For children, early detection of a small problem during the development of teeth is important preventing a major problem. X-ray images are used to locate decay and monitor tooth emergence and development. Dentists are able to check if the space in the gun can properly fit all the emerging teeth, if extra teeth are emerging and if the permanent teeth are properly developing. The images will also reveal teeth that are unable to come out of the gums.


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