X-rays, or radiographs, were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Röntgen, a German physicist. He came upon the use of x-rays by accident as he was experimenting with vacuum tubes. The first x-ray taken by Röntgen was of his wife’s hand. This discovery eventually led to the use of x-rays to diagnose dental disease.
X-ray waves make very small wavelengths, which means they are higher in energy than ultraviolet waves. Like other forms of energy, x-rays travel in waves and can either be absorbed by or pass through solid objects, depending on density. Bones and teeth are very dense, while soft tissues like the gums, tongue, and cheeks are less dense. This makes the conditions of teeth and jaw bone easy to see and monitor.
X-rays have made it convenient and crucial in the detection of dental caries, or cavities. As a cavity forms in a tooth, the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth lose mineral content, allowing more x-rays to pass through. This becomes apparent on an x-ray as a dark spot, or “radiolucency.”
Dental x-rays can help dentists diagnose other tooth and jaw problems, such as cracks, gum disease, infections, root canal and nerve problems, and cysts. X-rays can also be used to plan various dental procedures, such as implant placement, denture fabrication, wisdom teeth extraction and orthodontic treatment.
Traditionally, x-rays have been taken using x-ray sensitive film on one side of the area to be captured by the x-rays passing through your body. Technology, however, has improved many ways in which x-rays are taken and used for your dental health.
Dr. Beck at Mt. Tabor Dental uses an all-digital dental x-ray system. The benefits of digital x-rays include significantly less radiation exposure and much faster processing times. Check out our next blog to find out why digital x-rays are better and why Dr. Beck uses them for his patients!