What Are Dental X-rays?
Dental x-rays (radiographs) are an essential diagnostic tool. Without the use of them, certain dental problems may be missed. They are not only used to detect cavities but to see erupting teeth, diagnose bone disease, assess trauma or plan for braces (orthodontic treatment).
If your child has a high risk for tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends exams with x-rays every 6 months. Typically, most pediatric dentists recommend x-rays once per year or every other cleaning appointment. Every 3 years, it may be recommended for your child to have a panoramic x-ray taken for growth and development.
Concerned about your kids having dental x-rays?
Let us help calm your fears! We are concerned about radiation, too, so we want you to have the facts you need to make an educated decision when it comes to your children.
We want you to know the truth about dental x-rays. Just to break it down for you, below is chart of the radiation doses you receive from different x-rays.
An annual maximum occupational exposure for radiation workers in the United States is 5,000 millirems (measure for radiation). When you spread low doses out over a period of time, it’s not as destructive to the body because it has time to recover.
- Mammography 1000
- Pelvimetry 875
- Lower spine 450
- Middle spine 347
- Abdomen 147
- Ribs 143
- Pelvis 133
- Skull 78
- Hip 72
- Neck 52
- Femur 21
- Full mouth dental series (digital) less than 1
- Dental bitewing (digital) less than .05
To put this in perspective, you would need to have 2,000 dental x-rays to equal the radiation in 1 mammogram. To reach that maximum safety dose, we would have to take approximately 10,000 dental x-rays. On average people receive 3 dental bitewings worth of radiation a day just from being outside in the sun or around concrete buildings and roads. Knowing how low the dose is, let’s talk about the benefits.
Here are just a few benefits of dental x-rays:
- Detecting hidden decay
- Detecting the presence of a cyst or tumor
- Determining the presence of permanent teeth
- Detecting oral cancer problems
- Detecting root involvement with the sinuses
- To help determine whether or not to remove primary teeth
- To determine if extra teeth are present
The list goes on and on. I hope you feel safe and secure when your child gets his or her next set of dental x-rays!