They are used to show dentists the surfaces between the teeth. No matter how good your dentist’s eyes are, it is virtually impossible to see all surfaces without taking xrays(radiographs). They are taken to get a complete view of all aspects of both teeth and bone levels.

There are 3 main types of xrays that are typically taken:

  • Panoramic Xrays or Panorex– These are not taken every visit, but show your entire jaw, sinuses, and TMJ.They are often taken to see if there are wisdom teeth present,and determine if there is a lack of space for them to come infections,and cysts are also able to be seen.
  • Bitewings– These are the ones that are most often taken, which show between the teeth. Dentists use these to detect cavities between teeth, or to see fillings or crown margins.
  • Periapicals– These are used to see the roots of the teeth, to detect infections  or help to determine the severity of any gum disease(bone loss) present.

It depends.

At the initial visit, the dentist may take either a full mouth set of films, or some take a panorex and some additional films.

After the initial visit, it is at the discretion of the dentist how often they should be taken.

Some general guidelines however:

If you get cavities regularly, you should probably have films taken at least every year.

If you have a history of cavities, you should probably have dental xrays taken every year.

If you have poor oral hygiene, you should probably have films taken every year.

After a patient has a proven track record of not getting new cavities, they often can have films taken less frequently,typically in this office,every 2 years.