Many patients express concern that dental x-rays are harmful, since they use radiation to capture interior images of your teeth and gum. In truth, this procedure uses extremely low doses of radiation and can help your dentist identify potential issues like cavities, tooth decay, and impacted teeth — meaning the benefits far outweigh the risks!
Ultimately, regular dental X-rays are just as important as your biannual teeth cleanings.
They are typically performed once a year, but your dentist may schedule them more often if you have a dental problem or are in the midst of a treatment plan. Other factors that may influence the frequency of your X-rays include:
- your age
- any symptoms of oral disease
- a history of gingivitis (gum disease) or tooth decay
Additionally, if you recently moved or switched dentists, your new dentist will most likely ask to take X-rays to get a full picture (pun intended!) of your oral health.
So should I be worried about radiation exposure with dental X-rays?
To start, it’s important to understand that the exposed levels of radiation are considered safe for both children and adults. Even better, your risks from exposure are lower if your dentist uses digital X-rays instead of developing them on film.
Plus, your dentist will place a lead “apron” over your chest, abdomen, and pelvic region to protect your organs. If you suffer from thyroid conditions, they may use a thyroid collar as well.
In order to capture various views of your mouth, there are several types of intraoral X-rays, including:
- Bitewing: For these X-rays, you’ll bite down on a special piece of paper. This technique allows your dentist to see how well the crowns of your teeth match. It’s often used to check for cavities in between teeth too.
- Occlusal: This type of X-ray lets your dentist see all of your teeth in a single shot. The picture is taken with your jaw closed to detect anatomical problems with the floor of your mouth or your palate.
- Panoramic: Here, the machine rotates around your head to allow your dentist to check your wisdom teeth or look into jaw problems.
- Periapical: This X-ray focuses on two teeth from root to crown.
If your dentist has any concerns, they may perform extraoral X-rays as well to capture areas outside of the gums and teeth, such as your jaw.
Here are three more frequently-asked questions about dental X-rays.
- How should I prepare for dental X-rays? No special preparation is needed! Dental X-rays are often completed prior to your scheduled cleaning, so just be sure to brush your teeth before arriving at your appointment.
- Do children need dental X-rays as well? Children may require more frequent dental X-rays in order to track the growth of their adult teeth. For instance, your dentist may ask for X-rays to help determine if baby teeth need to be pulled to prevent future complications.
- What if I’m pregnant? If you’re pregnant or believe you may be pregnant, avoid all types of X-rays, including dental X-rays. Even low doses of radiation are not considered safe for developing fetuses.
Call us at 407.834.0330 to schedule your appointment today! Check out our Dental Blog to learn more about topics like restorative dentistry, wisdom teeth, and teeth whitening.