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Using X-Rays to Diagnose Dental Problems

Taking X-rays can detect dental problems early.

X-rays are a vital aspect to dental diagnosis and treatment. Many potentially injurious conditions would go undetected were it not for the regular utilization of X-rays. Modern X-ray film, equipment and technique make dental radiation safe and effective tools to insure optimal dental health.

The X-ray above represents a patient who has not visited the dentist for two years. The calculus or tartar is now visible on the X-ray as wisps or thorns projecting from the sides of the teeth underneath the gums where you cannot see them. These "thorns of calculus" are a major cause of puffy and bleeding gums (gingivitis), which leads to bone loss and periodontal disease. A dental prophylaxis (cleaning) can make your teeth brighter and squeaky clean once again!

Necrotic Tooth - A Tooth in Which the Pulp (Nerve Chamber) Has Died

Though many teeth which die do not discolor, the dark purple area of this premolar indicates that the pulp of the tooth has died, likely due to a cavity or other trauma. Such a tooth needs root canal or other treatment in a timely manner to prevent extensive infection and tooth abscess.

Once a tooth has died, it tends to become brittle and will eventually break down without proper treatment from your dentist. Since the tooth has died, it may not feel sensitive to the patient and is often ignored. As a dentist, I routinely see patients who have broken off the entire dental crown of a necrotic tooth! Though the tooth may still be saved after it has broken off, unfavorable fractures may require extraction.

The dark shadow around the root of this tooth indicates a tooth abscess (infection) or other pathology.

If you're interested in getting an exam & cleaning, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!

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