Dental x-rays help the dentists diagnose dental problems and oral disease that may not be visible during a clinical dental examination. Dental x-rays also help the dentists detect and treat the dental problems early to prevent extensive and serious dental problems. Many patients are concerned about the radiation exposure of the x-rays. The dose of radiation patients are exposed to during the taking of dental x-rays is extremely small, especially if the dentist is using digital x-rays. The frequency of taking x-rays depends on the patient’s current oral health, age, risk for disease and any signs or symptoms of dental problems and oral disease. Talk to your dentist about the concerns you may have of taking dental x-rays.
Different types of dental x-rays give the dentist an overview of different parts of the mouth. These are some of the common types of dental x-rays:
· Periapical x-ray provides a view of the entire tooth, from the crown to the root of the tooth (below the gumline);
· Bite-wing x-ray checks for tooth decay between the back teeth or under dental fillings;
· Panoramic x-ray uses a machine that rotates around the head. It shows a view of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and the joints of the jaw. It is usually taken when a patient may need wisdom teeth extractions, orthodontic treatment or implant placement.
Dental x-rays for adults
Dental x-rays are important for the dentists to diagnose and treat some of the dental problems and oral disease.
· Check for tooth decay between the back teeth or under the dental fillings;
· Check for infection at the root of the tooth, below the gumline;
· Check for bone loss for the presence or degree of periodontal disease;
· Check for impacted teeth;
· Detect cysts and abscesses;
· Monitor good dental health through prevention.
Patients cover the body with a lead apron when taking dental x-rays. Research indicates that the lead apron prevents up to 94 percent of the radiation from reaching the chest, abdomen and reproductive organs. A lead collar is used to shield the thyroid gland.
Dental x-rays for children
Dentists take dental x-rays of children’s teeth for some of the same reasons as adults but also some different reasons for their different needs.
Some of the reasons for children requiring dental x-rays differ from adults:
· Find out if there are any missing or extra teeth below the gumline;
· Look for any possible signs of infection;
· Determine if the child is a good candidate for orthodontic treatment;
· Get an idea of how the permanent teeth are shaped, how they look and how they will erupt.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reassures parents that the amount of radiation children are exposed to during the taking of dental x-rays is extremely small. Today's x-ray equipment lets dentists focus the x-ray beam on the area of interest to reduce radiation exposure. Protective equipment like lead body aprons and thyroid shields also keep the child safe during the procedure.
Dental x-rays for pregnant women
According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dental x-rays are considered safe for the pregnant patient, at any stage during the pregnancy. It recommends that the abdominal and thyroid shielding be used for pregnant patients when dental x-rays are being taken.
Are dental x-rays safety?
Patient often ask if dental x-rays are safe. Dental x-rays use very low levels of radiation and are generally safe. We are exposed to all sources of radiation daily, such as the sunshine, air, minerals in the soil, appliances in the home and others. Dental x-rays are a safe way to let the dentist observe conditions of the oral health.
How often should patients get dental x-rays?
The frequency of taking dental x-rays depends on the patient’s current oral health, age, risk for disease and any signs or symptoms of dental problems and oral disease. Some patients may need x-rays every 6 months and others may need them every 12 to 24 months. Some patients are at higher risk for cavities or have a history of periodontal disease that may need dental x-rays more frequent.
Every patient’s dental needs are different. The American Dental Association (ADA) encourages dentists and patients to discuss the recommendations of dental treatment and x-rays and make informed decisions together.
Dr. Anna Lee is a general and cosmetic dentist in Glendora, CA. She is experienced in all phases of dentistry. She treats patients of all ages. If you have any questions about the safety and the frequency of taking dental x-rays, call our office for a consultation at 626-335-5114 or visit us at www.annaleedds.com.