X-rays use high-energy radiation to penetrate body tissues and form images of internal structures. Dense substances like bones, teeth, and metal fillings block the x-rays and appear white on x-ray film, and semi-solid structures like tissues and fluids appear gray. These x-rays can be useful in diagnosing diseases or injuries in the teeth and gums. A new option is digital x-rays, which can provide a more comfortable experience for the patient.

When Are X-Rays Needed?

Dental x-rays may be necessary to identify the following conditions:

  • Damage to the teeth
  • Current positioning and size of the teeth
  • Presence of cavities
  • Presence of abscesses
  • Jaw fracture
  • Malocclusion
  • Bone damage

Traditional X-Rays

There are several types of traditional dental x-rays. Bitewing, periapical, palatal, and panoramic are some options. The dentist will know the appropriate x-ray for your treatment.

Whatever the type, traditional x-rays require the film to be placed in the mouth, which can cause some mild discomfort.

Digital X-Rays

Digital x-rays are beneficial to adult patients but especially for children and can be used to monitor their tooth development, especially for teeth that have not yet emerged. Unlike traditional x-rays, digital x-rays do not require the film to be placed in the mouth. Instead, a small sensor is positioned in the mouth to capture images of the teeth, which are immediately displayed on the computer screen. This reduces the discomfort felt by the patient and ensures timely results for the dentist.

There are two types of digital x-rays available. Intra-oral x-rays are used to examine the teeth and mouth. Extra-oral x-rays are used to analyze the skull and jaw.


All x-rays use radiation, so pregnant women should make their dentists aware before using x-rays. However, the level of radiation exposure is low, so x-rays do not pose any real danger to the patient. Digital x-rays use even lower levels of radiation, making them even safer than the traditional kind.

Digital x-rays are a great improvement over the traditional x-rays. They are more comfortable and convenient for the patient, and they allow more flexibility and timeliness for the dentist.