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Everything You Wanted to Know about Bitewing X-Rays

Posted on 3/20/2016 by Mark Bieber
A dentist showing a patient his dental x ray.Bitewing X-rays are an important part of the diagnostic process in dentistry. The name refers to how the film or electronic device is positioned within your mouth. You'll need to bite down on a tab that holds the imaging sensor in place.

Bitewing X-rays are used to determine if decay is present in the back teeth, and if it is, it will show just how bad that decay is.

They are especially useful for detecting decay in between the teeth, as these surfaces can't be inspected visually. A bitewing X-ray can also show where bone has been lost around the teeth, which is indicative of gum disease.

Bitewing X-Ray Safety

Bitewing X-rays - along with other dental X-rays - have been shown to be safe and expose people to minimal radiation. In fact, you'll likely be exposed to more radiation from everyday sources than from these X-rays - a series of four bitewings will expose you to about 0.004 millisieverts of radiation compared to the 0.01 millisieverts you are exposed to on a daily basis in the environment.

Bitewing X-Ray Frequency

The frequency with which you have bitewing X-rays taken will vary on a case by case basis so that you don't have to be exposed to any unneeded radiation. If you don't see your dentist frequently or have a history of dental problems like cavities between the teeth, you may need X-rays more often, but this should be a decision that is determined by you and your dentist.

So you've had your bitewing X-rays - now what? Well, if no problems are detected, you may not need them again for a year or more. If a minor problem is discovered, your dentist might take the wait and see approach and order a repeat X-ray in six months, or if a major problem is identified, treatment methods can be taken in order to prevent problems from worsening.

Please contact us if you have any questions about bitewing x-rays.

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