Why do we need X-Rays for our teeth?
X-rays allow us to see things that could not be seen otherwise. For example:
1) Cavities in between the teeth
2) How deep a cavity might be
3) Decay starting under an old filling or crown
4) Infections at the root of the tooth and in the bone
5) The level of bone (related to gum disease)
6) Position of teeth, i.e. Wisdom teeth
7) Possible pathology such as cysts or tumors
And the list goes on, but you can see that without X-Rays we would not be able to perform the proper quality care patients deserve.
How many X-Rays do I need?
When you first come to a dentist as a new patient it is always recommended to have a Full Mouth Series (FMX) of X-Rays. It is also necessary to update these FMX’s every few years. For patients coming in consistently for cleanings and exams, the ADA recommends Bitewings X-Rays every 6-12 months. Anytime a patient presents with pain, sensitivity, broken teeth or trauma it is necessary to take an X-Ray of that area to help with diagnosis.
For children it is usually recommended to receive a Panoramic X-Ray in addition to standard ones in order to see the growth and development of their baby and adult teeth. This Panoramic is also very useful for surgeries as well as jaw or trauma evaluation. Although we have our standard minimum recommendations, every person and every situation is unique, and the number of X-Rays can vary (more or less) for each individual, but are always kept to a minimum.
I am worried about radiation at the dentist…
With the new age of digital X-Rays, radiation exposure from dental X-Rays has dropped 80%. In accordance with our commitment to the safest with the latest technology, we have recently upgraded to the NOMAD X-Ray machine. This machine reduces exposure so much that a lead apron is unnecessary and the operator can also be in the room. A shield on it is able to absorb excess radiation. A great point of interest is that radiation exposure from dental X-Rays are half the amount as average background radiation, and 8 times less than a cross country flight.
Education and knowledge or radiation will help you make the right choice for your teeth. After all if you skip x-rays because you are concerned about radiation, and then end up with advanced dental disease that is not beneficial to your health. As with anything else in life, balance is the key.