Why Get Dental X-rays Before Implant Surgery?


You are probably used to having dental x-rays once a year as part of your regular check-up. Your dentist uses these x-rays to find cavities or check on any fillings you might have. During the x-ray, you are protected from radiation by a lead apron.

To adequately prepare for dental implant surgery, a surgeon will schedule and perform dental x-rays. You may be wondering why these x-rays are necessary. If you both already know implants are needed, why take this extra step?

Additional x-rays taken before your implant surgery are an important preventative measure because they can detect problems with your teeth, mouth, and jaw that are invisible to the naked eye. With these insights, your dental surgeon can properly prepare for your surgery so there are no unpleasant surprises. Fortunately, dental x-rays take only a few seconds, are painless, and use a low level of radiation.

Here are 3 ways dental x-rays guide your dental surgeon in your treatment:

  1. Pathology, such as tumors and cysts, can be identified early, before symptoms begin. The sooner problems like oral cancer can be diagnosed, the better your chance of recovery.
  2. X-rays are used to plan surgeries of the upper and lower jaw. Your surgeon can identify the roots of adjacent teeth, nerves, and sinus cavities. Being able to map out these hidden structures ahead of time prevents complications during the surgery, such as nerve damage.
  3. X-rays can be used to plan treatment for dental implants. Before your dental implant surgery can begin, your surgeon needs to know whether you have enough bone in your jaw for a successful implant. An x-ray will show if bone grafts will be necessary to securely place the implant. It will also show the space available between adjacent teeth so that the appropriate size implant can be place.

A New Development in Dental X-rays: Digital Dental X-Rays

Digital dental x-rays are an advanced option that has made dental x-rays even safer and more convenient. At Cumberland Surgical Arts, we use digital technology for both our panoramic x-rays and cone beam CT scans.

Panoramic x-rays enable your dentist to capture a 2D image of your entire mouth—including your teeth, sinuses, and jaw joints—in a single scan. The cone beam CT scan produces a 3D image of your teeth, soft tissues, nerves, and bone.

Digital x-rays use even less radiation than traditional x-rays, which means a smaller amount of exposure for the patient. The amount of radiation from a digital x-ray is 0.1 millirems (mrem). To put things in perspective, each year, the typical person is exposed to a total of approximately 620 mrems from natural and man-made sources. In contrast, a chest x-ray can expose you to up to 40 mrems while a mammogram exposes you to up to 1000 mrems.

Not only are digital x-rays safe, but they also are more time-efficient than traditional x-rays. Instead of developing the x-ray film in a darkroom, the dentist sends the images to a computer, where they can be viewed on the screen, saved to a file, and printed out.

Digital x-rays make it easier for your dentist to show you where the problem is. They can also be enhanced and enlarged or shared with other members of your healthcare team electronically.

As the technology advances, dental x-rays become a safer and more powerful way to ensure that your dental surgeon detects any hidden oral health concerns and can plan ahead for a successful surgery. You can be confident that your dental surgeon is armed with the right information going into your procedure. At Cumberland Surgical Arts, we use the latest in digital x-ray technology for the most accurate and timely understanding of your oral health.

X-rays are important step when getting dental implants, but have you considered if dental implants are the right option for you? Get your free eBook, Top 3 Ways to Replace Missing Teeth.

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