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Why does my dentist take x-rays during my root canal treatment?

Why does my dentist take x-rays during my root canal treatment?

Firstly we should make a correction that in fact x-rays are not taken. It is common to refer to radiographs as xrays but actually this is incorrect. Xray is the technique by which we produce a radiograph. A radiograph is an image of hard tissues which is formed by a controlled burst of xray radiation. In the past radiographs were produced on specific radiographic film however technology has advanced and most radiographs are now viewed & stored in digital format i.e. computer.Patients undergoing a Root Canal Treatment are typically required to have radiographs taken at different treatment stages in order to identify the problems affecting the tooth.
root canal treatment being carried out, endodontic files are used to clean the inside of the root canal chamber

Image from Dr Guido Cuba

What Is A Pre-operative Radiograph?

The process of taking pre-operative ( before treatment ) radiographs is no different than taking standard radiographs. The dentist requests the patient to be seated in an upright position after removing any metallic objects that may hinder the x-ray beam. The digital sensor or film is positioned in a receptor holder, which is placed in the patient’s mouth for supporting the film. The dentist positions the patient as well as the x-ray head appropriately. Maintaining the right position and avoiding movements is extremely important while the radiograph is being exposed.

The pre-operative radiograph is highly useful in identifying the presence as well as nature of an underlying dental problem. In some cases, more than one radiograph is required to achieve the desirable diagnostic information.

Understanding the Treatment

Before starting the endodontic treatment, a rubber dam is placed in the patient’s mouth for preventing accidental inhalation of materials during the treatment. Radiographs are prescribed at various treatment stages. Often, the first radiograph is needed for establishing the root canal’s working length as well as for verifying the tooth’s anatomy. This involves placing a small file inside the tooth’s canal. It is very important that any debris or infected material is removed from inside the root canal. The process of eliminating infection and cleaning the internal root anatomy is known as the root canal treatment or endodontic treatment.

Radiographs may also be taken during the shaping and cleaning phase of the treatment. Once this cleaning phase is over, radiographs are taken to see how well the canals have been shaped during the root canal treatment. The dentist will fill the root canal accurately with Gutta Percha to prevent further infection. Further radiographs are be taken to ensure the canal’s are completely sealed and filled with gutta percha material.

the completed root canal treatment, note the well condensed filled root canal chamber shown in white lines

Image from Dr Guido Cuba

What Is A Postoperative Radiograph?

Postoperative radiographs are usually taken by using the same techniques as those used for preoperative radiographs. Dentists use these radiographs for assessing progress during follow-up appointments.

What Are Recall Radiographs?

For the purpose of evaluating the treatment outcome, some radiographs are taken at recall appointments to examine the patient’s teeth. This allows the dentist to figure out if the tooth has completely healed while identifying any signs of persistent infection.

Radiography is an extremely important and valuable tool in all kinds of endodontic treatment. Without radiographs, dentists cannot observe the deep pathologies of the teeth. In fact, taking radiographs at the different stages ensures successful endodontic treatment.

At Brighton Implant Clinic we provide high quality affordable dental treatment. Dr Guido Cuba has a masters degree in Endodontics and has been practicing at the Brighton Implant Clinic since 2010. If you would like further information about root canal treatment or any other dental procedure please feel free to Contact Brighton Implant Clinic or Call us on 0800 111 6623.