Dental X-Rays, a Peek Inside your Teeth

Dental X-rays, a Peek Inside your Teeth

What are they?

X-rays are a type of radiation that can pass through the body but we cannot see or feel them. The energy from them is absorbed more easily by some parts of our bodies than others. A detector is used at the other side of the part of the body we want to see inside, which picks up the x-rays that made it past and turns them into an image. The denser the body part, the less x-rays that will pass though and reach the detector. Bone and enamel on your teeth are very dense and not many x-rays will pass though these.

X-ray labelled to show the different parts of the teeth you can see

Uses of Dental X-rays

The dentist will usually take routine x-rays at your examination to check the health of your teeth and bone. We also use x-rays to detect many conditions, diseases, abnormalities and problems. In the dental X-ray above you can see something sticking out of the side of the tooth and has been labelled tartar, this happens when we do not floss enough and tartar can build up in-between our teeth, this person would need to see a hygienist to help remove the piece of tartar for them. We can also detect tooth decay and abscesses from x-rays.

Labelled x-ray to show an abscess and tooth decay

Sometimes we need more information and could do with seeing the whole mouth. For this we take a special type of dental x-ray called and orthopantomogram or OPG for short. We can see quite a lot more with one of these and is especially important for seeing wisdom teeth.

OPG x-ray showing the top and bottom jaw well as some other anatomy such as the ear lobes


Having an x-ray can be a concern since radiation is used to get these images of inside your teeth. The amount of radiation however, is so small it is the equivalent of less than a day of natural radiation from the environment. There is such a low dose of radiation that the risk of a dental x-ray causing cancer is deemed as extremely minor, it would also be the same amount of radiation that you would get from a 1-2 hour flight on an aeroplane.

If you want to know more about x-rays, the health of your teeth and gums or have a problem call New Street Dental Care on 01264301301 or email us at for some friendly advice.