Full Mouth Dental X-Rays: Why Do You Need Them?

full mouth x-rays - full mouth dental x-rays

Full Mouth Dental X-Rays: Why Do You Need Them?

Full mouth x-rays (FMX) are a very important part of your dental care. These radiographic images give your dentist a complete picture of your mouth, including your teeth, gums, and jaw bones. Having a full picture of your mouth allows your dentist to check for potential issues or plan treatment for an existing problem. We answer some of the most frequently asked questions about full mouth x-rays below.

How Often Do You Need Full Mouth Dental X-Rays?

Everyone needs full-mouth dental x-rays at least once every five to seven years, so their dentist can look for changes and monitor their dental health. However, some people may need them more often. For example, if you have advanced periodontal disease, your dentist might recommend full mouth x-rays more often. We recommend two to four check-up x-rays every year. Children may also need check-up x-rays more often because their mouths are still growing and the placement of their teeth can change rapidly. 

How Long Do Full Mouth Dental X-Rays Take?

The x-ray process is painless and usually takes 15 minutes or less to complete. Then your dentist or hygienist will help you position a lead apron around your torso. The apron limits the parts of your body that are exposed to the radiation in the x-rays. Your dentist or hygienist will then take a series of x-rays, asking you to bite down on the imaging device in different positions. 

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Yes. Dental x-rays are safe for all people, including those who are pregnant. The amount of radiation used is very low and is not significant enough to increase your cancer risk or cause birth defects. Even so, precautions are taken like using the lead apron over your body to limit your exposure. 

Always let your dentist know if you are pregnant. You can decline x-rays if you wish, but it’s important not to let pregnancy make you skip a dental visit. If you are pregnant, you may need additional preventative care like scaling and planning, due to hormonal changes that affect your gums and increase your risk of gum disease.

Why Are Full Mouth Dental X-Rays Important?

Full mouth x-rays give your dentist a deeper look into your dental health. With full mouth x-rays, they can catch dental diseases before they start causing problems. They can help your dentist ensure that treatments like root canals and fillings are successful. They can also help your dentist create a plan for braces, Invisalign, or wisdom tooth extractions if needed. 

What Do Dental X-Rays Show?

  • Areas of tooth decay between the teeth, under the gums, or under existing fillings
  • Abscesses
  • Bone loss 
  • Infections in the bone or root canal 
  • Cysts, tumors, or other abnormalities 


Why Are Full Mouth X-Rays Important for Children and Teens? 

  • They show whether there is enough space to fit all incoming teeth without crowding.
  • They help your child’s dentist determine whether their baby teeth will fall out early enough to allow for proper eruption of the permanent teeth.
  • They let your teen’s dentist check on the development of the wisdom teeth, which can often overcrowd the mouth or become impacted.


Full Mouth Dental X-Rays in Prescott, AZ

Full mouth dental x-rays are one way of ensuring that your teeth are as healthy as can be. They let your dentist keep small problems from growing bigger, and stop big problems in their tracks. Taking care of your teeth is crucial in helping you stay healthy and feel confident. Having a dentist that is smart, capable, and kind can be the best way to keep up with your dental care. Contact us today to schedule an exam and cleaning.



Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/22/22). Photo by Umanoide on Unsplash.