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. If you haven’t had your dental X-rays updated recently, be sure to book your next dental visit sooner rather than later.
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.
Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation by using a lead apron or drape when taking dental x-rays, as well as using digital technology. Digital x-rays help improve diagnosis, use significantly less radiation (60-90% less compared to traditional film x-rays), allow you to see enlarged clear x-ray images to better understand your treatment recommendations, and are beneficial to the environment by eliminating toxic film processing solutions.
How often dental x-rays should be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary radiographs/x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.
Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are recommended annually to detect cavities. Panoramic radiographs are recommended to give an overview of the jaws and are particularly useful when examining wisdom teeth or developing teeth. This x-ray would be reassessed only every five years or so unless there is a specific issue of concern, like unexplained pain or erupting wisdom teeth.
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
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!