A dental x-ray is a special type of imaging test that is used to take images of the inside of your mouth.
This test is also called an intraoral x-ray or an oral x-ray. It’s done to help your dentist or oral surgeon diagnose and treat oral conditions.
What are the different types of xrays?
There are several types of x-rays. The type of x-ray that you have depends on what you’re looking for, and also how much radiation is needed.
For example, a periapical x-ray looks at the root of the tooth. This test is done to check if the root is healthy.
If there’s an infection in the root, the dentist might need an open-mouth x-ray, which is called an open-mouth Panorex. This test shows the root canal filling and root canals.
Sometimes, an open-mouth x-ray isn’t needed for diagnosis. For example, if you have a mild case of periodontal disease, you might not need an open-mouth x-ray.
How do I prepare for an xray?
Before an x-ray, your dentist or oral surgeon will give you instructions about what to do and not to do. These instructions might include:
- Don’t eat or drink anything for a few hours before the x-ray is done. This includes water, coffee, and soft drinks.
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or take any other drugs or supplements.
- Don’t use mouthwash or rinse with a toothpaste.
- Don’t use mouthwash or rinse after taking an antibiotic. This can wash away the antibiotic.
- Don’t have any dental work done in the next two weeks.
- Don’t eat or drink anything for the first few hours after the x-ray.
How do I get an xray?
An x-ray is often done with a handheld x-ray machine called an interproximal x-ray, which is also called an interproximal or periapical view.
For this test, the dentist or oral surgeon will use a special wand to take a picture of your teeth. The wand can be held in one of your hands or in your mouth.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will give you instructions about how long to hold the wand and hold it in place during the test.
How should I prepare for an xray?
You may need to do the following things before your x-ray:
- Stop taking any medicines or eating any foods that contain the dye.
- Brush your teeth and visit your dentist right after the test.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything for a few hours before the test.
What happens during an xray?
During your x-ray, you’ll lie on your side and the dentist or oral surgeon will shine a light on your teeth. The light is invisible to the naked eye, and it sends out a picture of the inside of your mouth.
Some types of x-rays can take more than one picture. For example, some can take pictures of the inside of your teeth and how they fit together. This might be needed to check for bone loss.
In other types of x-rays, one picture is enough. For example, a dentist might take an x-ray of the roof of your mouth to see how a tooth is moving.
A dentist or oral surgeon might need to repeat these tests more than once. This is called a follow-up x-ray.
What are the risks of an xray?
An x-ray is a very safe procedure. The radiation exposure is very low.
People who have a high risk of developing cancer from radiation exposure might need to wait a year before having an x-ray. This is called a low-dose exposure.
If you have a low-dose exposure, you may need a follow-up x-ray to make sure there was no cancer.
How do I get the results of an xray?
The results of the x-ray will be given to you in a report that’s called the radiograph report. This report will contain the type and date of the x-ray, and the name, address, and phone number of the person who examined you.
If there was a problem with the x-ray, your report will note this.
If you don’t have a report, you’ll need to go to your dentist or oral surgeon. They’ll usually give you a copy of the report.
How long does it take to get the results of an xray?
It usually takes a few days to get the results of an x-ray. If you have a follow-up x-ray, it can take a few more days.
If you have an open-mouth x-ray, it might be a few hours. The results will be available to you right away.
How can I get my xray report?
If you need your x-ray report, you can usually request it from your dentist or oral surgeon. If you don’t have a dentist or oral surgeon, you can find one on the NHS website or on the American Dental Association website.
How do I make an appointment with my dentist or oral surgeon?
To make an appointment:
- Call your dentist or oral surgeon.
- If you’re calling from your home, ask them to put you through to the office.
- If you’re calling from a cell phone, ask for the office and ask when they’ll be ready to see you.
How do I find a dentist or oral surgeon?
To find a dentist or oral surgeon:
- Call your local healthcare provider.
- Look for your local hospital.
- Ask your family doctor to refer you to a dentist or oral surgeon.
What do I do if I need to go to the hospital?
If you have an emergency, call your hospital. The emergency department can usually help you.
If your dentist or oral surgeon is closed, call your local healthcare provider. The healthcare provider can give you the number for a dentist or oral surgeon in your area.
How can I get a copy of my x-ray report?
You can usually request a copy of your x-ray report from your dentist or oral surgeon. Your report will include the date and type of x-ray, and the name, address, and phone number of the person who examined you.
How much does an x-ray cost?
The cost of an x-ray will vary by type of x-ray and where it is done. X-rays are often done in a dental office or a hospital.
Often, the cost of a dental x-ray is less than the cost of an x-ray for an ear or throat problem.
The cost for an x-ray will vary depending on where it is done and where you live.
Your out-of-pocket cost for an x-ray will depend on:
- Your insurance plan
- Your deductible
- Your out-of-pocket maximum
- The type of plan you have
How your insurance plan works?
How does my insurance work?
The way that your insurance works will depend on the plan you have. Here are some examples of plans that might cover an x-ray:
- Private insurance. This is health insurance that you buy directly from a private insurance company.
- Medicare. Also called Medicare or Medi-Cal, this is health insurance that most people get from the federal government. Some people also have Medi-Cal through their employer.
- Medicaid. Also called Medicaid or Medicaid for Kids, this is health insurance that some adults and children get from the state.
Many health insurance plans cover x-rays.
If you have private insurance, check with your insurance company to see if it covers x-rays.
If you don’t have private insurance, you may be able to get covered by Medicaid or Medicare.
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