5 Tips to Taking Good Dental X-Rays

a dental assistant reviews a patient’s digital X-rays on a nearby monitor

Taking dental x-rays may seem easy, but it actually requires knowing how to properly operate the equipment if you want to capture clear, concise images. These visuals are important to a dentist because they allow them to identify problems lying beneath the surface as well as how to prepare a patient’s treatment plan. While enrolled in a dental assisting school, you’ll learn the ins and outs of using various equipment, but if you want to ensure you’re taking the highest quality x-rays, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Make Sure the Receptor is Properly Aligned

When taking dental x-rays, you will use what is referred to as a “receptor.” This piece is inserted into the patient’s mouth and acts as a camera, capturing images of the teeth and gums. Making sure it is properly aligned within the oral cavity is necessary to ensure it takes images at the right angle. If it is positioned incorrectly, the X-rays beam may cause the patient’s teeth to appear too long, too short, or even overlapped.

Don’t Dismiss Areas of the Mouth

If the dentist recommends a patient has panoramic X-rays, make sure to capture the entire mouth, not just those areas with remaining teeth. Even individuals with missing teeth or wisdom teeth that have been removed should have x-rays that reflect these vacated sockets, as this will allow the dentist a clearer, well-rounded view of their oral cavity and how to provide proper treatment.

Try to Avoid Bending the Film and/or Receptor

Want to avoid distorted or unclear images? Make sure the film and receptor remain straight the entire time. This can be tricky, as you will be expected to place the receptor inside a patient’s mouth; however, to avoid this problem, make sure you are choosing tools that fit correctly within a person’s oral cavity. When biting down, it should not cause these to bend in any way. This is why many dental offices choose receptors made of plastic, as they are much harder.

Pay Attention to the Size of Your Patient’s Mouth

The size of your patient’s mouth can make a difference in the exposure of the image. For smaller mouths, there should be less light, so you’ll need to adjust the settings accordingly. Depending on which type of patients your dentist treats, the exposure settings will vary based on children and adults, so making sure it is set correctly will help you avoid under as well as overexposed images.

Make Sure Your Patient is Comfortable

Part of your dental assisting program will be to learn how to keep your patients comfortable. Because dental x-rays are not the most relaxed part of a visit, they may be tempted to move around during the process. As a result, you can be left with unclear images that make it hard for the dentist to decipher. Instead, give them the neck and head support they need and remind them to breathe deeply if they have a sensitive gag reflex. This can help them to refocus their attention elsewhere while you capture your necessary X-ray images.

About Dental Assistant Pro
For more than 25 years, Dental Assistant Pro has been providing aspiring dental assistants with essential knowledge and hands-on skills learning. Our philosophy is the best dental assisting training should be taught in a dental office at an affordable cost, so why not take a chance and enroll in our 10-week course schedule? It’s now more affordable than ever to become a dental assistant! To learn more about us, visit our website or call (513) 515-6611.