Boise Dentists Blog

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Dental X-Rays Vs. Impressions – What’s the Difference?

Image via Flickr by Sharon Drummond

Have you ever been confused about the difference between Boise dental x-rays and impressions? Both take a panoramic view of your teeth, but they have incredibly different purposes. Here’s what makes each process unique:

Boise Dental X-Rays for Finding Cavities and Hidden Teeth

If you are getting a cavity filled, in need of a dental implant, or any other number of dental procedures, you’ll need a dental x ray. Here are a few things a dental x ray can show our Boise dentists:

  • A tooth’s root. This is especially important to see if the teeth are straight and healthy, or if there is room for a dental implant.
  • Cavities. While our Boise dentists can see a cavity when inspecting a patient’s teeth, a dental x ray can be helpful in discovering just how big the cavity is.
  • Impacted teeth. Boise dental x-rays will show a child’s adult teeth under their baby teeth in addition to showing the position of wisdom teeth in adults.
  • Bone and gum loss or abnormalities. If you have suffered bone or gum loss from a disease, Boise dental x-rays can show our Boise dentists the extent of the damage.

Dental Impressions for Getting a Crown

Instead of looking for cavities, abnormalities, or teeth that have not yet surfaced, dental impressions are used to give our Boise dentists and 3-D mold of your teeth. This shows us:

  • The patient’s bite. With a dental impression, our Boise dentists can see exactly how your teeth and jaws fit together. This is useful for seeing how to make a dental crown, but it can also be helpful in seeing how your jaws align.
  • The shape and size of a tooth. When you need a dental crown or implant, our Boise dentists can get the exact shape and size of your teeth thanks to a dental impression.
  • The shape and size of all your teeth. If our dentists need to give you a partial, a mouth guard, or customized teeth whitening trays, we want the exact 3-D design of all of your teeth. A dental impression gives it to us so that whatever we make will be the perfect fit.

New CEREC Restorations Digital Impressions

While you sometimes need both Boise dental x-rays and dental impressions, our Boise dentists have found an easier way to get your dental impressions. Instead of using a putty-like substance with large and uncomfortable trays (as dentists have used for decades), Summit dental has recently purchased CEREC digital impressions technology.

Here’s how the new CEREC digital impressions works: Our dentists will run a wand-like camera over your teeth, which sends the CEREC digital impressions onto a computer. The program immediately constructs a 3-D digital likeness of your teeth on screen. These digital impressions are then used just the same as the physical impressions.

Want to learn more about the difference between dental x-rays and physical or digital impressions? Ask one of our amazing Boise dentists or staff the next time you are in the office!