Dental x-rays are essential preventative diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not otherwise visible during a dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and create an appropriate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Decay between the teeth
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and may even save your teeth from eventually being lost to decay or periodontal disease.
Are dental x-rays safe?
Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. 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. Nevertheless, dentists do take 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) and are recommended once or twice a year at your as part of your dental check-ups and will be used to detect new dental problems.