Dental X-Rays Aren’t Everything

   Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS            December 30, 2015


Dental x-raysDental X-rays tell an important story, but they aren’t everything. I use x-rays when I examine my periodontal patients. X-rays show how much jawbone has been damaged, but they can’t tell me whether the disease is active or whether the disease has already been treated.


The only way to diagnose the extent of active gum disease is to have a dental professional do a thorough exam. This includes:

  • Measuring the depths of the gum pockets around all the teeth in the entire mouth
  • Identifying all the sites where the gum around the teeth is bleeding
  • Determining if any teeth are loose
  • Exploring the obvious causes of this active infection
  • Investigating the patient’s overall mouth health and body health


In addition, I believe there are not-so-obvious causes that I need to uncover. For example, I need to know:

  • If there are any foods the patient is eating that might cause chronic inflammation
  • If there are specific healthy foods the patient needs to eat to enhance his or her immune system
  • If there are lifestyle changes that must be encouraged to improve the patient’s overall well-being


Along with this information, I study the x-rays. X-rays of all the teeth will show me the amount of existing bone that surrounds the teeth. This bone will be required to support the teeth in normal functions of chewing and talking. I also will look for signs of tooth-grinding habits that may have damaged jawbone.


For my patients, diagnosis of disease is important. X-rays are an important tool, but I cannot diagnose active gum disease from x-rays alone.

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