One question that new patients sometimes ask is whether we really have to take x-rays. When we say yes, we occasionally get the reply, “But I thought this was a holistic dental office!”

It is. Biological dentists like Dr. Montgomery rely on x-rays just as much as conventional dentists do. That’s because x-rays provide important information about oral health that we can’t get any other way.

Only x-ray technology allows us to see inside each tooth and the health of their supporting bone. Only x-rays let us examine the roots of your teeth. Only x-ray technology can give us a view of your jaw joints and your jaws in relation to other parts of the skull. Only x-rays can let us see impacted teeth (teeth that haven’t fully erupted).

Without x-rays, we have no way to diagnose many common dental problems. No diagnosis? No treatment.

So yes, even a holistic, biological practice like ours has to take x-rays. Our approach to the technology, though, differs.

The Kinds of Dental X-rays We Take

The most extensive imaging we do is at your very first appointment with us, so we can fully understand your current oral health, as well as have a baseline to measure future changes against. In addition to taking a full mouth series of x-rays (FMX), we take a 3D cone beam CT scan (CBCT).

The full mouth series is for viewing your individual teeth and the tissues immediately below them. These 2D images are ideal for things like spotting decay, getting a more accurate view of the gum level, evaluating interproximal areas (where the sides of the teeth touch), and much more. CBCT gives us a wider, more detailed view in three dimensions. We can see the mouth, jaws, and sinuses in relation to each other.

CBCT can also reveal some surprises. For many patients, scans have revealed issues such as pineal gland calcification or calcified ligaments – even calcifications on the carotid artery. We find lots of sinus infections and airway problems that could be a sign of sleep apnea. We find many abscessed teeth.

Unless problems emerge that require additional imaging for the sake of diagnosis and treatment, after your first visit, we only take a single set of bitewings each year and a new FMX every five years to monitor your oral health and ensure we’re providing the proper level of care. (A bitewing is a type of x-ray that shows the crowns of the upper and lower teeth simultaneously.)

How We Take X-rays Safely at Boise Caring Dentistry

While older, film based imaging requires relatively hefty doses of radiation, the kind of digital imaging we use today does not. By some estimates, digital imaging reduces radiation exposure by as much as 90%.

Between that and our conservative approach to x-ray frequency, exposure to radiation is minimal. Even so, we also use lead drapes to protect you, as well as a device called a collimator which is installed on our x-ray unit to minimize radiation scatter.

Additionally, we give you a homeopathic by Boiron called X-ray, as well as vitamin E (tocotrienol) immediately after imaging to counteract the free radicals generated during the procedure. True story: Tocotrienol has been shown to effectively treat exposure to nuclear radiation.

While we respect the right of every patient to refuse any procedure that they object to, we would not be serving our patients well by abandoning a technology essential to providing top notch dental care, nor would we be meeting our profession’s standard of care.

The key, as with any technology, is to use it safely and smartly.