X-rays are used to help our team see beyond the surface, beyond what is visible throughout a standard examination. The frequency of x-rays is determined by a number of things including your age, oral health, presence of oral disease symptoms, and risk for potential diseases. There is minimal radiation exposure associated with x-rays. Even less radiation is required for digital radiography. However, if you are concerned about the radiation at any point, we encourage you to speak with one of our staff before the x-rays are conducted.
Importance of Digital Radiographs
These high-detailed images can be used to find cavities, examine tooth roots, check bone health around teeth, ascertain whether any existing periodontal disease is a result of poor oral care, inspect the status of developing teeth, and overall monitor good tooth health. Conditions such as hidden dental structures (for example, wisdom teeth), tooth decay, bone damage, impacted teeth, cysts/abscesses/growths, and bone loss can also be determined from these images. For children, x-rays are additionally used to check that their permanent or adult teeth are growing in properly. Lastly, x-rays can help our team plan for further treatments by examining the placement of the teeth or the nasal area, jaw, sinuses, and joints.
What to Expect
Before an x-ray is done, it is important to inform our staff if you are or might be pregnant. In spite of the fact that dental x-rays are only conducted on your mouth area, routine x-rays might be postponed to avoid exposing the baby or fetus to the minor radiation. If it cannot be avoided, a protective lead apron will be placed over your belly to shield it from the x-rays.
You will be covered with a heavy lead apron, which reduces radiation exposure, while you sit upright in a chair. Our staff will also wear their own protective aprons/protective means and have you bite down on a small piece of cardboard or plastic while they take various pictures. In between images, the plastic filled with x-ray film will be moved to different parts of your mouth for numerous pictures. It is important you remain still while x-rays are being taken.
Digital radiography, in particular, utilizes an electronic sensor instead of x-ray film and then stores the image on a computer. With a computer screen, one or our team members may show you the images and discuss their findings. Overall, the x-rays should only take a couple of minutes and should not cause any pain. Don’t hesitate to speak up if you feel any pain or discomfort during your x-ray.
Frequency of Dental X-rays
For individuals who are not at high-risk for getting cavities or have no tooth decay, bitewing x-rays should happen every 2-3 years (adults), 1.5-3 years (teens), and 1-2 years (children). For those with tooth decay or high cavity risk, bitewings should be conducted every 6 months to 1.5 years (adults) and 6 -12 months (children and teens).