Dental X-rays are extremely important for your dental health because they take pictures of your teeth, bones and the soft tissues around them to help find any possible issues that are hiding away from the naked eye. X-ray pictures can show multiple kinds of cavities, hidden dental structures such as wisdom teeth, and they can find bone loss that cannot be seen during a visual oral examination. Dental X-rays may also be done to follow-up after a dental procedure was performed to make sure everything is looking okay. There are many different types. Each X-ray is taken for a different reason. One type is called a Bitewing X-ray. These show the upper and lower back teeth and are used to check for decay between the teeth. They also show how well the upper and lower teeth are lined up, as well as bone loss when there is an infection or severe gum disease. Another type of dental x-ray is a Panoramic X-ray. These take pictures of the entire mouth. They are used to view the jaw, teeth, sinuses, nasal area, and temporomandibular (jaw) joints. These X-rays are not always used to find cavities; instead they show issues such as impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, cysts, tumors, infections, and fractures. A full-mouth series of X-rays are most often done during a patient’s first visit to the dentist. Bitewing X-rays are used during checkups and Panoramic X-rays may be used occasionally, especially if someone is going forward with or thinking about a major procedure. It’s important to realize that dental X-rays are only taken when necessary for diagnosis and treatment. Their frequency depends on the individual’s dental health, signs of dental problems, age, and risk for oral disease. The true value of dental X-rays lies in the way we can discover dental problems before they have a chance to fully develop. If you don’t catch these issues early, even the latest technology can’t save you from the pain, time, and expense of treating them after they have worsened. It is important to keep up with your X-rays so you can keep up with your oral health for a healthy and painless smile.