You can't always tell if you have a dental problem just by looking at your teeth. X-rays give dentists a view of the interior portion of your teeth, allowing them to diagnose tooth decay, spot cracks and identify other issues that can affect your dental health. If you're not sure it's time for X-rays, ask yourself these questions.
How Long Has It Been Since My Last Checkup?
Dental X-rays are usually taken at least once a year but may be offered more often, depending on your dental history and your insurance coverage. X-rays provide valuable information regarding the health of your teeth. Although dark spots on teeth can be signs of decay, in most cases, cavities are only noticeable on the surface of your teeth if the decay is extensive.
X-rays help your dentist identify cavities during the earliest stage of tooth decay, which means you'll probably only need a small filling. Filling cavities when they're small helps preserve the structural integrity of your teeth.
Do I Have a Toothache or Jaw Pain?
X-rays are always needed if you have pain in your tooth or jaw. The test can uncover a variety of problems, including tooth decay, cracks, cysts or tumors, impacted teeth or dying nerves. It's particularly important to visit your dentist if you have severe pain, as extreme pain can be a symptom of an infection in your tooth called an abscess.
If you have an abscess, your dentist will prescribe painkillers and antibiotics and will probably recommend a root canal. In addition to pain, other symptoms of an abscess include fever, swollen lymph nodes in your jaw or neck, swelling in your face or jaw or a boil on your gum.
Am I Experiencing Wisdom Tooth Pain?
Your dentist uses X-rays to determine if your impacted or partially impacted wisdom teeth are ready to come out. If there isn't enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth, you may experience pain, swollen gums, cysts, jaw stiffness, swollen gums, gum disease or damage to other teeth. In addition to determining if it's the right time to extract your wisdom teeth, your dentist will also consult the X-rays to locate nerves that must be avoided during the procedure.
Have I Experienced a Serious Blow to My Mouth?
Blows to your mouth can damage your teeth, roots or jaw. If you've experienced an injury, an X-ray will reveal the extent of the damage. If your tooth has broken, your dentist will use the X-rays to determine if the break extends to your roots. Extraction is the only option if your roots are fractured. If they're intact, your dentist can restore your tooth with a crown.
X-rays help keep your smile healthy. If it's time for your next dental appointment, or you're concerned about an aching tooth, call us to set up an appointment.
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Questions to Ask When You've Got Tooth Pain
Asking the right questions is important when you have tooth pain. The next time you suffer from a toothache, ask your dentist these questions:
How Will My Problem Be Treated?
It's important that you feel comfortable with the treatment option your dentist suggests. Ask for detailed information about the proposed treatment options, including anesthesia choices and what you can expect after the treatment. There's no need to suffer during a dental treatment, thanks to a variety of pain control options, including local anesthetic or oral, inhaled or intravenous sedation.
How Can I Control the Pain Before the Appointment?
Warm salt water rinses, over-the-counter pain relievers, and topical anesthetic gels can help keep you comfortable until your appointment. If your tooth is very sensitive, avoid eating or drinking very hot or cold foods or beverages.
What Should I Do If the Pain Gets Much Worse Before My Appointment?
Call the dentist as soon as possible if your pain worsens. Worsening pain is never a good sign and could indicate that you have a dental abscess. If the abscess isn't treated promptly, the infection could spread to other parts of your body.