What risks does a dental x-ray imply for the body?

By dental X-ray we mean the image, on film, of the dental units, the jaw and surrounding tissues, made by exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

This radiation is capable of penetrating through the body and being absorbed to varying degrees, depending on the density of the tissue.

Thus, denser structures are rendered with white, soft tissues with shades of grey, and cavities, the lack of substance, are rendered with black.

A dental X-ray looks like the negative of a photography.

Dental X-ray is the most common paraclinical examination requested by dentists.

It helps us to investigate areas of the teeth and jawbone that cannot be seen with the naked eye during a simple consultation.

Types of intraoral X-rays

These are most commonly used in dentistry, with the film positioned inside the mouth.

Interproximal dental X-ray

In order to diagnose caries early, a dental X-ray is recommended, using the interproximal (bitewing) technique.

This type of dental X-ray, if correctly performed and interpreted, provides important information about the crowns of teeth:

  • shape

  • volume

  • inclination

  • contact point

  • presence of subgingival tartar

  • depth of periodontal pockets,

  • degree of bone resorption,

  • presence of cavities between teeth,

  • caries recurrences (cavities under the fillings),

presence of marginal secondary caries (caries occurring between the edge of the filling and the tooth)

Interproximal dental X-rays can be used to detect carious lesions between the teeth in their initial form, caries which, on a cursory clinical examination, usually go unnoticed.

To prevent this type of caries, we recommend flossing twice a day and visiting your dentist twice a year.

With the help of interproximal radiographs, we can analyze how well the fillings have been done. This makes it easy to see if the crown fillings are properly fitted or if they have thresholds.

Retro alveolar X-ray

This gives a complete picture of the teeth, including the crown, root and alveolar bone. With this X-ray, you can identify:

  • periapical area

  • causes of a dental abscess

  • caries

  • periodontal disease

  • gum disease

  • state of restorative work

  • impacted teeth

  • presence of tartar

  • dental cracks.

Occlusal dental X-ray

These radiations is capable of to penetrate through the body and be absorbed, to varying degrees, depending on tissue density.

Thus, denser structures are rendered with white, soft tissues with shades of grey, and cavities, the lack of substance, are rendered with black.

A dental X-ray looks like the negative of a photography.

Types of extraoral dental X-ray

They are taken, with film, outside the oral cavity and are much larger in size.

They are focused on the skull and jaw, giving us an overall picture of the dento-maxillary apparatus.

They are used to monitor tooth development.

An extraoral dental X-ray is less detailed.


It shows the image of the jaw and the entire dentition on a single film.

This type of dental X-ray records images of hard-to-reach areas such as the temporomandibular joints or wisdom teeth and shows jaw fractures and other conditions very well.

Front and lateral X-rays

Relating the skull in its entirety, they are used to examine the teeth in relation to the patient’s jaw and profile.

They are used particularly by orthodontists.


Highlights the salivary glands in an X-ray, using contrast substances.

It helps to diagnose specific salivary gland conditions – Sjogren’s disease, blockages, etc.

Dental computed tomography

The CT scanner provides us with cross-sections through organic structures, two-dimensional, “slice” images, allowing us to take highly accurate measurements in the lateral mandibular region, sinus area, upper arch and nasal fossae.

With the help of CT scans, problems related to the facial bones (tumors or fractures), the relationship of the alveolar ridge to the sinuses or to the alveolar nerve, crucial information for the insertion of a dental implant, can be identified.

What are the risks to the body?

These types of X-rays do not affect the patient’s health, as the amount of X-rays emitted during exposure is very small.

Every day we are exposed to a variety of radiation from the environment – mobile phones, microwaves, subways – which does not affect us, but is deposited in the body.

That’s why we recommend limiting the number of X-rays per year and taking extra precautions for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

An additional protective measure is a lead apron, which shields the rest of the body, as dental X-rays are aimed exclusively at the jaw.

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