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Q: How often should full-mouth X-rays be taken? What do they uncover that conventional X-rays don’t?
How often do dental caps leak? What causes this? What must be done to correct it?
A: As a general rule a full series of X-rays is done every five years.
A full set of X-rays typically includes the bite-wing X-rays taken at a patient’s hygiene appointment. Their primary purpose is to screen for decay in between the teeth in the area that is not visible by the clinical exam. In addition to the bite-wings a full-mouth series, or FMX, includes peri-apical X-rays.
Peri-apical X-rays look primarily at the root portion of the tooth. They are used to screen for infections in the bone and conditions involving the root of the tooth. When these two types of X-rays are done in conjunction with each other the dentist has the opportunity to be thorough in his or her radiographic examination.
The bite-wing portion of this set of X-rays can be expected to be retaken every year or two depending on the propensity of the individual patient to get decay. The peri-apical X-rays can also be expected to be taken whenever the patient returns to the dentist with a problem in a specific area.
It is important to know that the visual examination your dentist does on a regular basis is just that — “visual.” The use of X-rays periodically is important in order for the dentist to do a complete and thorough exam.
That being said, it is important to not overuse X-rays throughout the doctor-patient relationship. It is my experience that patients want to minimize the use of X-rays. This is where the level of communication between the patient, doctor and hygienist becomes important.
As you may recall from previous columns — communication is of the utmost importance in any relationship.
+ Caps can leak for any number of reasons. Perhaps the cap never fit properly. Temporary cement may have been used instead of permanent cement. Decay may have started at the interface between the cap and the tooth. There could even be a fracture in the cap that caused the leakage.
Depending on the reason for the leak the repair can be as simple as a patch filling, or as involved as needing to remove the cap and place a new one. The only way to really make the call on what is best for a particular situation is through a thorough examination. This examination should include the clinical, or visual exam, as well as the radiographic exam.
I hope this has answered your questions.
Dr. Frank Vascimini is a dentist practicing in Homosassa. Send your questions to 4805 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446 or email them to him at info@MasterpieceDentalStudio.com.