Periodically most patients should have a full series of dental radiographs taken. In our office we recommend taking a full series every 7-10 years, but many periodontists recommend taking this series even more often, in order to monitor patients at risk for periodontal bone loss. Many patients are reticent about having a full series done due to their concern about the effects of radiation. Although unnecessary radiation exposure is never a good idea, It should be said that periodic dental radiographs are a good idea and that digital X-rays expose patients to far less radiation than do the old fashioned x-ray films did

A full series of dental x-rays usually is composed of 4 bitewing x-rays to check for  posterior interproximal decay and fourteen periapical X-rays.  Periapical x-rays are taken to show entire teeth including the apical area (the end of the root) and are very helpful in detecting bone loss, decay, root resorption , bony growths and infections in bone. Many dental problems are painless and difficult or impossible to detect without the use of dental radiographs.

Dentists are concerned about monitoring a patient’s bone loss and periodic dental radiographs are helpful not only to document it and but can help in accessing the rate of bone loss.  Bone loss often is experienced in and episodic rather than linear manner. Patients can go through a period when they experience significant bone loss and then it may stop. Comparing a new full series with one taken some years earlier can help confirm that a patient’s bone loss is current or not.