In any general dentistry practice, x-rays of your teeth are very important because they can expose unseen tooth decay, show tooth abscesses, cysts, or tumors; show extra or impacted teeth; and help to expose the current condition of dental fillings, crowns, bridges, and root canals. Any bone loss from gum disease and tartar buildup is also shown on X-rays. They are also important when the dentist is trying to determine if there is enough bone to place dental implants. Digital x-rays help with preventive dentistry by giving us a better look at your teeth.

A new technology, digital X-rays, offer the advantages of no film or processing chemicals, production of a nearly instantaneous picture, the ability to use colors for contrast in the image, and the extra advantage of an 80 per cent reduction in radiation. However, the main disadvantage is cost:  digital X-ray units usually cost 3-5 times more than conventional units. Plus, the quality of the image is not significantly better than film. And though the digital unit does reduce exposure to radiation, the amount of radiation is so low that the benefit is very small.