Most times they are
Ah, to have x-ray vision – another of the Superpowers we mentioned earlier in this series. Expecting a medical practitioner to diagnosis and perform surgery without the aid of diagnostic tools is so impractical. The portion of the tooth that you see in your mouth is just one part of a much larger picture. X-rays are used as a diagnostic tool to help the dentist see what the naked eye cannot. The root of the tooth, it’s inside tissues, ligaments, bone socket, jaw bone, nerves, blood vessels, and extent of health can only be seen on an x-ray.
What may look to you as a straight forward filling may actually be a situation that involves an infection within the tooth. The bone level of a tooth may not support the new tooth that you wish to have placed in an area. That small broken tooth may actually have a fracture line that runs far beyond the crown of the tooth and into the root/foundation of the tooth.
Understanding that dentists have physical limitations to their diagnostic capabilities and do not have x-ray vision will help you to appreciate why they must include further tests to help determine the best course of action before they proceed.
The great thing about today’s modern medical advances is that most dental offices are now equipped with digital imaging systems. The new digital electronic sensors allow dental providers to take 10 x-rays for every 1 of the old, out-dated type of radiographic film. It is much more efficient in terms of time, radiation dosage, definition/clarity, and electronic sharing.