922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

(781) 861-7645

922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

922 Waltham St #202 Lexington, MA 02421

Why Do Dentists Ask for a Dental X-Ray: Is It Necessary?

Young female dentist working in dental office.

Dentists can examine your mouth to detect possible issues, but even with their specialized tools, there’s only so much they can see. Dental issues can remain hidden underneath, so they need to look deeper. For this reason, they need the help of x-rays.

What Are Dental X-Rays?

Dental x-rays are a type of radiography which produce images of the dental structures and their internal soft tissues. They reveal problems that your dentist cannot see with the naked eye. These might include:

  • Cavities
  • Fractures
  • Abscesses

Called “radiographs” in dental parlance, these images will reveal the condition of your teeth, tissues, bones, and the development of the jaw.

Dental X-Rays Can Save Your Life

Dental x-rays help the dentist diagnose a lot of dental problems. They are also useful for looking for hidden dental problems and structures. 

Dental x-rays are simple and painless—they’re akin to taking pictures of your mouth, although x-rays use a different wavelength of light. The images allow your dentist to track the progress of a dental problem, such as a cavity, and determine if the treatment works.

This type of radiography is also a good way of showing a dentist the progress of a dental illness, such as cancer. The x-ray images can also be used to monitor the healing process of gum disease.

What to Expect

Your dentist will ask you to prepare for your dental x-ray by eating or brushing your teeth one hour before going to the dentist. As a general rule, you should not eat or drink anything that contains particles or can stain your teeth. Water and plain black coffee or tea will be alright.

Your dentist will then take a series of dental x-rays of your mouth. Most people can sit still during the procedure. Some may need some medicine for the discomfort caused by the x-rays.

Your dentist will typically take at least two dental x-rays: a top x-ray and a lateral x-ray or bitewing x-ray. The x-rays will be taken from different angles to ensure that all of the dental structures are seen and identified.

The dentist will ask you to bite down on a plate with your teeth. The plate will be placed in the center of the film and the x-ray will be taken at the same angle each time.

How Long Is the Process?

The whole process of taking dental x-rays will take a maximum of three minutes. Most patients don’t even notice the time it took the dentist to take the images.

After taking the dental x-rays, the dentist will usually view them immediately. If a dental problem is noted, it will be checked and treated. Most dental x-ray examinations take less than 15 minutes.

The dentist will then instruct you on a regular follow-up schedule for your x-rays. It will help your dentist to track the progress of any dental disease.


A dental x-ray is an essential procedure in diagnosing and treating dental problems. It is painless, non-invasive, and harmless. The dentist will explain the purpose of a dental x-ray and how it is done. If it is your first time, it is best to ask what to expect before the procedure.

If you need a comprehensive dental examination or x-ray from a Lexington dentist, visit us at Lexington Smile Studio. We are an award-winning dental clinic committed to providing the highest quality dental care. Book an appointment with us by calling at (781) 861-7645.


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