Skip to content

    Oral Care

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Dental X-Rays

    How It Feels

    X-rays take only a few minutes and are not painful.

    Some people may gag on the plastic or cardboard that holds the X-ray film. People often find it easier to relax if they focus on something else (such as an object on the wall) and take slow, deep breaths through their nose during the X-rays.

    Risks

    The amount of radiation used in dental X-rays is low. But there is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels of radiation used for this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the potential benefits of the test.

    Pregnant women may not want to have routine dental X-rays taken until after they give birth. Although there is no proof that a routine dental X-ray could harm a developing baby (fetus), dentists usually suggest you wait to have your X-rays until after the baby is born. Delaying the X-ray for a few months will not result in further harm to teeth in most cases. There are times when the severity of the dental problem requires an X-ray to deal with an urgent concern.

    Results

    Dental X-rays are pictures of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues around them to help find problems with the teeth, mouth, and jaw. Your dentist can talk to you about your X-rays right after they are done.

    Dental X-rays

    Normal:

    No tooth decay is seen.

    No damage to the bones supporting the teeth is seen.

    No dental injuries, such as tooth or jaw fractures, are seen.

    No cysts, solid growths (tumors), or abscesses are seen.

    No extra or impacted teeth are seen and no teeth are out of their normal place.

    Abnormal:

    Tooth decay is seen.

    Damage to the bones supporting the teeth is seen.

    Dental injuries, such as tooth or jaw fractures, are seen.

    Cysts, solid growths (tumors), or abscesses are seen.

    Abnormally placed, extra, or impacted teeth are seen.

    What Affects the Test

    Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

    • If you can't stay still or hold the X-ray plastic or cardboard in your teeth.
    • If you have braces, retainers, dentures, bridges, and certain body piercings (ear, tongue, lip, cheek, or nose).

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

    Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


    or
    Answer:
    Never
    (0)
    Good
    (1-3)
    Better
    (4-6)
    Best
    (7)

    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

    Start Over

    Step:  of 

    Today on WebMD

    close up of woman sticking out tongue
    Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
    toothbrushes
    10 secrets to a brighter smile.
     
    Veneer smile
    Before and after.
    Woman checking her bite in mirror
    Why dental care is important.
     

    Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
    Slideshow
    woman with jaw pain
    Quiz
     
    eroded front teeth
    Slideshow
    brushing teeth
    Video
     

    Variety shades of tea
    Slideshow
    mouth and dental instruments
    Article
     
    Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
    Tool
    womans smile
    Video