In managing your oral health, a dental surgeon takes on the tremendous responsibility of trying to differentiate healthy tissues from unhealthy tissues. Making this determination about a spot or lesion on the surface of your skin is usually as simple as a clinical observation or a brush biopsy. But, this task becomes far more complicated when it involves diagnosing spots and lesions that can only be seen on an x-ray rather than the naked eye.
It would be irresponsible and negligent to overlook all of the various dark shapes and shadows that appear on x-rays. However, it would be equally irresponsible and negligent (not to mention, aggressive) to perform a biopsy or oral surgery on every single radiographic lesion. An oral surgeon is well-trained in the radiographic appearance of your head and neck anatomy, and this helps them to sort out the “good” spots from the “bad” ones.
A radiolucency is a term that is used to describe the presence of a darkened area on an x-ray. This represents an area that is less dense than the surrounding bone. Certain portions of your anatomy can be expected to appear radiolucent on an x-ray, and this includes:
- Openings or holes in the jawbone where nerves can enter and exit the skull
- Indentations for nerve pathways
- The nasal cavity
- Nasal ducts and canals
- The sinuses
- The chambers within the teeth that house the dental nerves
- The spaces between the teeth and the jaw bone which is filled with microscopic ligaments
- Bone marrow spaces
- Nutrient canals for the teeth
- Developmental spaces for new teeth
Some of these anatomic structures are present in the upper jaw, some are in the lower jaw, and many can be seen in both jaws. It is also important to note that some of these structures are more apparent in certain age groups, while others are not age-related at all. Arriving at the correct diagnosis will require the accumulation of mitigating factors.
For an explanation of the radiolucencies that can be seen on your x-rays, call ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio to schedule your appointment today.