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.
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 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 when taking dental X-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each X-ray.
How Often Should Dental X-Rays Be Taken?
The need for dental X-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist 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.
The Advantages of Digital Radiography
Digital radiography has many advantages over traditional dental X-rays:
- Taking X-rays is faster because the sensor is merely moved from tooth to tooth, and your X-ray can be seen on a computer monitor just moments after exposure. There’s no waiting for chemical development, as with film packets.
- It’s also faster because the X-rays are available within moments on the computer monitor, with no development step in between.
- The lack of chemicals also makes digital X-rays safer for the environment.
- Digital radiography is safe for you, too. Because the unit is so sensitive, X-ray radiation can be up to 90% lower than conventional X-rays.