Why Does My Dentist Take X-Rays?

There are different types of x-rays (also known as radiographs) that we take to help us diagnose different dental conditions. In this blog post, we will review different types of x-rays and why we take each type.

Types of Radiographs

  1. Bitewing
  2. Periapical
  3. Panoramic
  4. Cone Beam (CBCT)

bitewing x ray

Bitewing X-Ray

The first and most basic type of radiograph that your dentist takes is a bitewing radiograph. Bitewings are principally used to check for cavities between posterior teeth. Although we check teeth for cavities during our clinical exam, our eyes cannot see between the teeth, therefore we use bitewing radiographs to help us diagnose decay. Bitewing radiographs are taken once per year during cleaning appointments to check for cavities.


Periapical x-ray

Periapical X-Ray

A periapical radiograph, sometimes simply referred to as a “PA,” is used to help us see the roots of our teeth. Since the roots of our teeth are hidden below the gums, it is not possible to visualize them during a clinical exam. Additionally, periapical radiographs can be used to detect cavities on front teeth.


Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

A CBCT is the only three-dimensional radiograph on the list. While bitewings, periapicals, and panoramic radiographs are all two-dimensional radiographs, a CBCT provides a 3D image of a particular area that is highly accurate. A CBCT can be for an area as large as the entire mouth, or as small as a few teeth. CBCTs are especially useful when planning for dental implants or checking for the proximity of adjacent anatomical structures in three dimensions. Check out this Youtube video explaining what a CBCT is:

Other uses for Radiographs:

  • Monitor Bone Loss
  • Check for Pathology (growth, tumor, ectopic tooth, etc)
  • Check if a Crown is fitting correctly
  • See if something is stuck between teeth
  • Root Canal procedures
  • To check for presence of an infection

This is a simple overview of the different types of dental radiographs and what they are used for. There are other types of x-rays that your dentist may take as well as different reasons for taking them, but that is beyond the scope of this blog post. The frequency and type of radiographs taken are tailored to the individual patient. Your dentist will decide which, if any, x-rays are appropriate for you.

Keep watch for our next blog post!

We’re famous!

One of our lovely patients wrote an article about the three generations of Moshman dentists (Howard, Stanley, and Andrew). She chronicles the history of Moshman Dental from when Dr. Howard Moshman opened the office in 1949 until today.

Check us out on the Bklyner!

Teach me more about dental implants:

As we explain on our dental implants page, there are three main components to a dental implant:

  1. The titanium fixture (sometimes simply referred to as “the implant”)
  2. The Implant Crown
  3. The abutment (the piece that connects the titanium fixture and the implant crown)


There are two different types of implant crowns: Cement retained implant crowns and Screw retained implant crowns.

Cement retained Implant Crown

In a cement-retained implant crown, the abutment and the implant crown are two separate pieces. First, the abutment is screwed directly into the dental implant itself. Afterwards, the implant crown is cemented onto the abutment.

Screw-Retained Implant Crown

In a screw-retained implant crown, the abutment, and the implant crown are fused into one piece. A screw passes through a small hole in the center of the crown in order to screw the fused abutment and crown directly into the implant. A cosmetic tooth-colored filling is then placed over the small screw hole to protect the screw.

Implant Bridges

When only one tooth is missing, we can replace it with a single cement-retained or screw retained implant crown. When multiple teeth are missing, we can replace them with either a screw retained implant bridge or a cement-retained implant bridge. We generally prefer to use screw-retained implant crowns and bridges if possible, but many times cement-retained crowns are chosen for cosmetic reasons.

Single Implant Crown and Implant Bridge

Are you missing teeth you would like to replace? If you think you may be a candidate for dental implants, Contact Us today. Moshman Dental, serving Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, and Carroll Gardens since 1949.

Why Do We Get Cleanings Twice Per Year?

There are many reasons that we get cleanings twice a year. In short:

1)     To clean hard buildup and deposits that neither a toothbrush nor floss can remove
2)     To screen for oral cancer
3)     To check for cavities

Cleaning Hard Buildup and Deposits

We all have bacteria in our mouths. When we eat food, so do the bacteria. This combination of bacteria and food is what we refer to as “dental plaque” or “biofilm.”  Plaque constantly builds up on our teeth and it is the culprit behind cavities and gum disease.  The bacteria especially love it when we eat sugary foods. Bacteria metabolize the sugar and produce acid, which eats away at our teeth.  This acid weakens (demineralizes) our teeth and causes cavities.

Our saliva contains calcium and phosphate ions, which helps remineralize (think “calcify”) our teeth and protect against the acid.  The calcium and phosphate in saliva don’t just work on teeth- they work on the dental plaque as well.  Over time the saliva turns the plaque into calculus, also referred to as tarter.  (Think of it as the calcium “calcifies” the dental plaque and we get calculus).  Dental plaque must be removed on a daily basis in order to minimize the amount of hard calculus that forms.  Plaque is removed by brushing and flossing.  Brushing removes the plaque on the outside of your teeth and gums and flossing removes the plaque caught between your teeth.

Moshman Dental

Although brushing and flossing will greatly reduce the amount of dental tartar that forms, it can’t stop it completely.  Once calculus forms, it can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist.  We have special instruments at Moshman Dental such as ultrasonics, dental scalers and curettes to help keep your teeth as clean as possible.

In Summary:
1) Bacteria + Food = Dental Plaque
2) When bacteria eat food, especially sugary food, they produce acid, which eats away at our teeth and causes cavities.
3) We have Calcium and Phosphate ions in our saliva that help to protect our teeth
4) The acid produced by bacteria demineralizes our teeth. The Calcium and Phosphate ions in saliva remineralize our teeth
5) Over time the soft dental plaque will become hard dental calculus, which only a dentist or registered dental hygienist can remove.

Checking for Cavities and Screening for Oral Cancer

During your dental visit every six months, after the registered dental hygienist has cleaned your teeth, the dentist doesn’t just come in to make sure everything is clean.  The dentist’s job is to make sure that not just your teeth, but your entire mouth is well and healthy.  We use our clinical exams and radiographs (x-rays) to check for any signs of dental cavities and gum disease as well as perform a thorough oral cancer screening.  During your dental checkups is a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have about Tooth Whitening, Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry, Invisalign, and any other aspect of dentistry that you want to learn more about.

If you are due for a dental visit, don’t hesitate to call our office at (718) 855-7545 and make an appointment.  Moshman Dental, serving Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, and Dumbo since 1949.

Moshman Dental

New Technology at Moshman Dental in Brooklyn Heights: Digital Impressions

We believe that in order to stay at the forefront of dentistry we must always invest in new technology. This past summer (August 2016) we renovated our entire office. We placed new floors, new ceilings, new front desk, and updated the consultation room. We installed 5 new top- of- the-line Adec dental chairs with built-in piezoelectric scaling units. We already have been using digital X-rays, and updated to the newest, most accurate sensors.

Our latest technological addition is Trios 3Shape digital scanner. This will enable us to take impressions by means of digital scans, instead of using conventional impression materials. The digital impressions not only eliminate the gooey mess of a traditional dental impression, but result in a faster and more accurate result, and an overall more pleasant dental experience.

Continuing with the trend of updating the office, we are proud to introduce our newest piece of technology: The Trios 3Shape Digital Scanner. Read more

Teach Me About Teeth And Cavities!

Teeth have multiple components to them. There is an outer enamel layer, an inner dentin layer and a nerve that runs through the very center of the tooth.

Healthy Tooth Anatomy

How Are Cavities Formed

A cavity forms when acid from the bacteria in your mouth eat away at the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth. The acid makes a hole in the tooth by eating away tooth structure (enamel and dentin), which allows bacteria to get inside. If a cavity gets too big, it can travel beyond the enamel and dentin layers and start eating away at the nerve of the tooth. Cavities that have reached the nerve of the tooth can be responsible for shooting, throbbing dental pain that keeps you up at night. Read more