What is a Periapical X-ray and When Would I Need One?
Periapical X-rays are usually performed as part of a full-set of dental X-rays or to isolate a single tooth. When a periapical X-ray is performed it is usually to diagnose an issue that appears to emanate from a single tooth or the tissue around the tooth.
If you were to deconstruct the word "periapical" into its Latin derivatives, "peri-" roughly translates to "all around" and "apical" refers to the tip or "apex" of the tooth root. Essentially, a periapical X-ray scans the whole circumference of the tooth all the way to the tip of the root. If the dentist recommended a periapical X-ray, you’re probably more interested in how this type of radiograph is performed and how it can help you. Read on to find out.
Periapical X-ray are Used to Diagnose a Number of Issues
Periapical X-rays are useful to dentist looking to locate and diagnose a tooth issue. As previously mentioned, X-rays scan the entire tooth — from the crown to the tip of the root. Periapical X-rays are useful in detecting and diagnosing issues such as:
- Impacted tooth
- Periodontal disease
What is the Process Like?
A periapical X-ray is a type of intraoral X-ray. This means the X-ray film is inserted into the mouth. Here is what you can expect during a typical periapical radiograph:
- Safety first. Before an X-ray is performed, the technician will outfit you with a lead apron and thyroid collar. These are used to minimize your exposure to X-ray radiation.
- Preparing the X-ray film.The dental assistant will load a piece of film into an XCP kit (extension cone paralleling kit). The part with the film will have a perpendicular bite plate. The film and holder are inserted next to the tongue and the patient bites down on the plate to keep the film steady and in the correct position.
- The X-ray is activated. Once the XCP kit is in place and you are firmly biting down the bite plate, the technician will exit the room and trigger the X-ray machine. They will quickly return and remove the film and XCP kit from your mouth.
- The dentist shares their findings. After review the radiograph images, the dentist will provide you with a diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan.
What is Shown in a Periapical X-ray?
This type of X-ray shows the entire tooth — from the crown to the root as well as the surrounding bone tissue and neighboring teeth.
What are the Risks?
All forms of radiation come with some degree of risk. Fortunately, dental X-rays are considered “low risk.” A standard periapical radiograph gives off just 5 microsieverts of radiation. In comparison, chest X-rays deliver 100 microsieverts of radiation. Even that cross-country flight from Miami to Los Angeles can expose you to over 40 microsieverts of radiation. In most cases, when you receive a periapical X-ray, you will receive half the dose of radiation that you would from just living on Earth for a 24-hour period.
Plan for a Great Smile
Comprehensive dental exams allow dentist to gather all the information necessary to develop a long-term treatment plan. Ensure a future of beautiful, healthy smiles — schedule a comprehensive dental exam, today!