Dental radiographs (X-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without X-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental X-rays may reveal:
Abscesses or cysts.
Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
Decay between the teeth.
Poor tooth and root positions.
Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Are dental X-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of X-rays using film is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources. In our office we use digital imaging technology which reduces the radiation by 80%. A full series of digital radiographs is comparable to about 10 minutes in the sun.
Dental X-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. Besides the use of digital imaging to reduce the radiation, we will also place a lead shield over your neck and body to protect the thyroid gland and other parts that can be susceptible to radiation. In truth, the lead shield is not even necessary anymore, but we use it anyway to reassure our patients.
In reality the only person at risk of radiation is the dental team. When you have radiographs taken in our office, you will actually notice that the doctor doesn't even leave the room anymore, and often holds the sensor in the mouth for the patient! So you can see, the risk is very low.
How often should dental X-rays be taken?
The need for dental X-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. The dentist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.
A full mouth series of dental X-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing X-rays (X-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.