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Why do we need them?
You wonder why your dentist sends you to do dental radiographs and you are
concerned about their effect on your body?
We want to answer you to these questions and ensure you of the minimum effects of
dental radiographs on your health.
The dentist needs the dental radiographs because they provide details that cannot be
obtained otherwise , details which are essential for a co,plete and correct diagnosis
for performing the right medical maneuvers for your problem.
Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues can be seen only on x-ray , such
as interdental caries , infection of the root( granulomas , cysts) tooth fractures ,
maxillary bone resorption due to periodontal damage.
If we expect for the damage to become clinically visible , the treatment would be more
complicated , more expensive and with less chances of success. Thus, dental
radiographs helps us in having a correct and complete diagnosis of the clinical case
and in establishing a treatment plan.
The most recommended dental radiographs are: retroalveolar radiography ( periapical) , panoramic
radiography ( orthopantomogram). We can also recommend: Bite-wing x-rays , occlusal radiographs ,
teleradiographs , radiographs of the temporomandibular joints , radiographs of the maxillary sinuses.
Periapical retroalveolar radiography
Retroalveolar radiography ( periapical) is the simplest most recommended and cheapest radiological
investigation. This type of x-ray reveals the entire tooth , including the crown , root and bone to which it is
anchored.It is performed by positioning the dental x-ray sensor in the patient’s mouth using a plastic sterile
support , fixing it and then performing radiography. The dental radiology nurse asks the patient to sit still for a
few seconds, as long as it is necessary for the sensor to record the radiological image. The sensor is then
scanned into a computer and the image appears immediately on the screen. The radiographic image obtained
highlights 2-3 teeth on a dental arch ( maxilla or mandible). This type of radiography is indicated in the
following situations: initial evaluation for development of treatment plan ( dental status) , detection of caries ,
detection of periapical infection / inflammation , assessment of periodontal condition , detection of already
made treatments and assessment of their correctness , visualizing root morphology before canal treatmemt or
extraction after dental trauma to view the teeth which are not broken or which are about to come out.
Control during the development of treatment radiographs with needles on the dental
canal to verify roots permeability , roots to the tip, checking complete desobturation of
canals , check of prosthetic works adaptation on limit , control and post-treatment
assessment , evaluation of accuracy of endodontic treatments immediately after their
performance , at 3 months and 6 months in teeth with apical periodontal damage ,
and then annually to all endodontically treated teeth , periodontal treatment
effectiveness evaluation at 3 months , 6 months , and then annually after apical
resection , evaluating implants after surgery and after osseointegration , as well as
This type of radiography is used for detecting caries between teeth , gingival caries or
under filings for evaluation of periodontal condition and bone loss.
Panoramic radiographs (orthopantomogram)
Any dentist should recommend a panoramic radiography to the patient at the first visit , before making any
treatment. Based on panoramic radiography , the doctor and the patient discuss about the treatment plan
which represents the steps to follow to solve any existing dental problems.
Panoramic radiography provides the doctor and overview of the patient’s clinical situation without providing
detailed information. It includes both dental arches and shows quite accurately the relationship between the
teeth and neighboring anatomical formations: maxillary sinuses , mandibular canals. To achieve such a
radiography the patient is equipped with lead protective equipment and is positioned towards the dental nurse
with his/her head at the level of a machine that will rotate around him/ her at the time of exposure. The
patient is asked to sit still for 20 seconds. At the end of those 20 seconds , the radiological image has already
appeared on the computer screen. This is usually performed at the beginning of treatment , being very
important for an overall correct diagnosis. Often , retroalveolar radiographs are needed ; they are smaller in
size but show more information in detail. Indications are multiple: initial evaluation within the treatment plan,
emphasizing bone lesions or the teeth which didn’t come out , assessment of periodontal status and support
bone structure , visualization of wisdom tooth in case of maxillary or mandibular fractures to assess the
position and orientation of critical structures such as the inferior alveolar nerve , maxillary sinus position in
relation to dental roots , emphasizing cancer lesions.
Why is our fear unjustified? Many daily activities even the most common ones expose ourselves to radiation.
The amount of radiation absorbed by a person is measured by Sievert ( Sv). The Sievert is the irradiation dose
measured by quantitatively evaluating the biological effects of radiation.
In case of a retroalveolar radiography the effective radiation dose is approximately 5 micro Sv.
In case of a panoramic radiography the effective radiation dose is approximately 30 micro Sv.
In case of a chest radiography the effective radiation dose is approximately 100 micro Sv.
Daily average background dose is 10 micro Sv ( radiation received from the sun and the earth’s crust).
Smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes every day for a year causes absorption of 3600 microSv and at
100.000 microSv ( equivalent to 20.000 retroalveolar radiography) and the risk of developing cancer appears.
There is an unjustified fear that dental x-rays produce irradiation. The patient must understand the limitation
imposed by the lack of x-rays and the fact that the benefits of information obtained through radiographs , far
outweigh the risk given by exposure to a minimum dose of ionizing radiation.
You are welcome to resolve your dental problems in
INTERMEDLINE centers !