Dentists use dental x-rays to evaluate and detect any oral issue. Dental X-rays use low-level radiations to detect problems like tooth decay, cavities, etc., at an early stage. Dental x-rays are of 2 main types: intraoral and extraoral x-rays. 

Intraoral X-rays are x-rays in which the film sits inside the mouth and helps in checking the cavities, status of jaw, and teeth. Whereas extraoral x-rays are x-rays in which the film places outside the mouth and assists in finding the growth of the jaw bone. These are the most common tools used for finding the right treatment without any discomfort. Below are the five common dental issues which prompt you to get a dental x-ray.

1. Age-related dental issues

Age-related dental

Oral health conditions and diseases related to aging collectively result in the need for preventive, periodontal, and restorative dental care. Especially in the case of adults aged 65 years and above who are suffering from sensory, cognitive impairments due to age. Oral health conditions that happen with aging are xerostomia (dry mouth), periodontitis, root, and coronal caries. 

Dryness of mouth, i.e., xerostomia, affects up to 40% of patients who are above 80 years old due to the harmful effects of medications. Patients with xerostomia are sensitive towards drugs used in local analgesics and anesthetics. 

Aged patients are also susceptible to root caries, which occurs due to increased gingival recession and medications as well. By adopting smart dental care routines with reminders of brushing and flossing, your elderly loved ones can maintain a healthy mouth. Dental x-rays come in the picture during the frequent dental visits as well as when you lose the natural teeth and have implants or wear dentures.

2. Gum Disease and tooth decay

Dental X-rays can detect early signs of tooth decay and gum disease. Gum diseases happen due to the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which leads to tooth decay and tooth loss. It destroys the tissues surrounding the teeth, which causes tooth loss. Periodontitis is usually preceded by Gingivitis (gum inflammation). 

Food particles from sugar, candy, milk, or any carbohydrate stick to the teeth and cause plaque. The bacteria in plaque thrive on the foods which produce acid. These acids ruin the tooth enamel, which causes gum inflammation resulting in bleeding the gums. Dentists can diagnose Gingivitis and tooth decay with dental x-rays. With early detection of tooth decay and gum disease, you will see the return of healthy pink gums.

3. Root Canal

Root Canal

Based on your symptoms and x-rays, only a dentist can detect if you require a root canal. When a dentist goes through your teeth X-ray, they will look for a checklist of essential clues that shows whether you need a root canal or not. Radiolucency is an informative sign which is a dark spot at the tip of the tooth's root. A broken tooth, which requires a crown, and a post, must also undergo a root canal. 

A panoramic x-ray is useful in capturing the image of the entire mouth in a single shot. It helps the dentist to plan the extent of the root canal treatment required. A dental X-ray will also detect a cyst that forms due to chronic infection at the root tip. It will cause persisting pain while eating something hot, cold, or sweet. It also results in swelling, pressure, and throbbing pain in the area.

4. Dental implant procedures

Dental implant procedures

It is common these days to use dental implants to fill the empty spaces in your mouth to protect your jaw bone. Some might want to replace missing teeth or replace extracted teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease or injury. A dental implant is a surgical procedure performed by an oral surgeon or a dentist with training in implants. A dental x-ray is necessary for this procedure. The dentist first goes through your dental x-ray, examines the area which needs an implant and makes the clinical evaluation for the same. 

Dental imaging plays a vital role in deciding the dental implant procedures. It provides reliable and accurate information about the patient's mouth anatomy for the right implant size. For sophisticated imaging, techniques like computed tomography(CT), conventional X-rays, and cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) help in measuring the bone dimensions and evaluating the quality of bone. 

Dentists also use Panoramic x ray to plan the implants, dentures, extractions, and braces. With the help of dental X-rays, there are high chances of the success of dental implants. Based on the types, number, and location of implants, the dentist chooses the right kind of dental x-ray technique. Dental x-rays can also detect the development of wisdom teeth and to recognize the method and timing of extraction.

5. Abscess

When there is a bacterial infection around the tooth, it causes pus, which is known as an abscessed tooth, also known as an abscess. It causes severe pain, which can transfer to the neck or ear if not treated in time. There are four main types of an abscess, namely, Periapical abscess, Periodontal abscess, and Gingival abscess. When the bacterial infection is at the tooth's root tip, it's called Periapical abscess. 

When the bacteria attacks the gum next to the root of a tooth, it's called Periodontal abscess. A gingival abscess is the infection of the gums. A simple tap can detect a tooth affected by an abscess as they are sensitive towards touch and pressure. 

Normally your dentist will recommend a dental x-ray or a CT scan. The dentist uses the x-ray to ascertain if there is any spread of infection to other tooth roots. A CT scan is useful when the infection spreads to the neck or ear. It can detect the extent of the contamination.


Getting frequent dental x-rays is essential for good oral health. Brushing, flossing, cleaning your tongue, and functional lifestyle changes will help you accomplish good oral health. Book an appointment with your dentist every one to three months. In case you are suffering from any dental issues, write down all the symptoms you are facing. 

You can also mention the medications and supplements you are taking along with any questions you want to ask. Your dentist studies the symptoms you face, and depending upon your health and age; the dentist would recommend the right solution. The dental problems that go undetected under the naked eye are identifiable using dental x-rays.