Sometimes the cautionary advice is well-founded, however when it comes to dental X-rays, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. For that reason, we’d like to set the record straight and explain why we use them, and what you need to know about this important diagnostic tool.
Why are Dental X-rays used?
During an ordinary dental appointment, we scan your teeth visually to look for signs of tooth decay. Yet often, decay lurks between teeth, beneath fillings, or under the gum line itself. Additionally, there are some dental abnormalities that can’t be detected by sight alone. It is for these reasons that we use X-rays.
X-rays allow us to identify and treat problems early on. When we have the opportunity to treat dental issues at their earliest stages, the treatment is less invasive and costly than when those dental issues have gone ignored for a long period of time.
How Harmful is a Dental X-ray?
Although they do expose patients to low levels of radiation, dental X-rays are absolutely safe. For this reason, every precaution is taken to ensure that the radiation levels you’re exposed to meet the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) standard.
While any exposure to radiation may sound alarming, radiation is found naturally in the environment—it’s in the air we breathe, food we eat, water we drink, and homes we live in. On average, US adults are exposed to 360 millirem of radiation from sources like these. By contrast, a typical dental X-ray only exposes you to 2-3 millrem.
How often are X-rays needed?
The length of time you should wait to receive X-rays varies from patient to patient. For new patients, we typically like to perform an X-ray to determine the present status of your dental health. We then have a baseline that we can compare future X-rays to. However, if you’ve recently had an X-ray at another dentist, we can typically have their office forward it to us.
During subsequent visits, X-ray frequency is determined by your health status. For example, if you are older, have periodontal disease, or are at greater risk for certain dental problems, we may need to X-ray you more frequently.
Are Dental X-rays safe for Children?
Dental X-rays are useful for seeing how teeth are erupting in children’s mouths, diagnosing cavities, and determining whether an infection exists. While the frequency of X-rays is determined on a case by case basis, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children with many cavities or a high risk of tooth decay receive dental X-rays every 6 months.
And speaking of X-rays, if you or your children are due for a dental checkup, we make it easy to schedule your visit. Click here to fill out our online appointment request form or call us at 614.891.0440. We’re pleased to offer evening appointments for your convenience.« Back to blog