Profilo Dental Blog

This space is designed to inform, teach, and help navigate the areas of Dentistry & Orthodontics. For any question you might have contact us today.

Dental x-rays explained: the importance of x-rays for your dental health

X-rays are an important part of your regular dental care. An x-ray provides information about your teeth and jaw beyond what is visible to the eye and allows us to better identify and treat any conditions you may have.

Decay between the teeth or under the gums would be almost impossible to diagnose without the help of x-rays.  Some cavities, by the time they are visible to the eye may have already irreparably damaged a tooth, and may have also affected the adjacent teeth.

We use the latest digital x-ray equipment which is accredited with NATA (NATA accreditation.) The radiation exposure from these digital x-rays is about 10% that of the traditional film based x-rays (the “older” technology - but still used in some dental surgeries).

Radiation is all around us in our environment.  Many natural products and everyday activities result in exposure to this background radiation. Examples include burning coal, using fertilisers and  the production of oil.  Radon gas accounts for more than half of our natural radiation exposure. Granite is an excellent source of this.

A Sievert (Sv) is the unit which measures the effective dose in terms of overall risk due to the radiation.

Our exposure from background radiation in Australia is about 2 milliSieverts (mSv) per year. Background radiation dose varies worldwide but generally ranges from 1 – 10 mSv, and can be as much as 20 mSv.   A return flight Sydney to Los Angeles is 0.16 mSv. A house with granite tiles would expose the occupants to 1.0 mSv of radiation annually.

Many people are concerned with unnecessary exposure to radiation and request not to have dental x-rays taken.  To put this into perspective when you come for a dental check up and get x-rays 


  - an OPG x-ray exposes you to 0.02mSv (8 return plane trips Sydney to Los Angeles,



 -Pbws (posterior bite wings, one for each side of the mouth) exposes you to 0.0025mSv


When these figures are considered, the benefits of being able to diagnose pathology early outways the exposure to radiation.

X-rays are  important in helping us to identify any cysts and tumours in the jaw bone. Both cysts and tumours are potentially dangerous and, as is the case for the rest of your body, won’t necessarily cause you any symptoms that might alert you to get your mouth or jaw checked. If a cyst or tumour is identified earlier, the treatment is less invasive and more effective.

When do I need a dental x-ray?

We will take an OPG x-ray of your teeth and jaw during your initial appointment with us. This gives us a baseline from which we can compare x-rays in the future and allows us to check for any issues that need be addressed, such as impacted teeth, abscessed teeth and any potential pathology associated with the jaw joints. For children, an OPG x-ray allows us to ensure all of their adult teeth are present and are erupting as required.

We will then take what we refer to as a PBW x-ray. This x-ray provides a close-up view of the crowns (the part of your teeth that is actually visible in your mouth) and allows us to assess if there is any decay happening between the teeth that can’t be seen by the eye.

If you visit your dentist regularly you have probably noticed that an x-ray isn’t required during each visit. Your dentist will determine on an individual basis how often an x-ray is required for your dental care plan.

 How often will I need a dental x-ray?

Generally, if you have a good standard of oral health and require no or few dental restorations following your initial checkup, you won’t require another x-ray for around two years.

If you are at a higher risk of dental caries or other oral problems, your dentist may suggest you have an x-ray every year.

People who have suffered trauma to the mouth and jaw may require closer monitoring and more frequent x-rays to identify any issues as early as possible.

As well, treatments such as root canal treatment also require more frequent x-rays.

If you are adamant that you do not want an x-ray taken, we will respect your decision but also advise you of the potential risks that come with not being able to complete a thorough dental checkup. We may also suggest you come into the practice for more frequent treatments so we can keep a closer eye on any changes in your dental health.

X-rays have an integral role in your overall preventative dental care plan. So if you do have any questions about x-rays, please get in touch with us.

You can book your appointment with Profilo Dental Care any time on our website or phone us on 4927 5177 to discuss your needs.