Cortney Davis, RDH
Are Dental X-rays Really Necessary?
A lot of patients are concerned about taking dental x-rays. Many patients are worried about incurring any unnecessary radiation, having addition costs, or they don’t have any teeth that hurt so they don’t think they are necessary. As an office that offers full-service dentistry, we want to make sure we take every measure to make sure our patients are getting the proper care they need and deserve. Without x-rays we can’t provide a proper and accurate diagnoses for our patients. There could also be underlying problems going on that we could be missing without x-rays.
Dental x-rays show many beneficial things that help the dentist and hygienist give a patient the proper care they need. They can be used to show areas of decay that may not be visible with just an oral exam, reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease, determine if primary teeth are being lost quickly enough for permanent teeth to come in properly, check the development of wisdom teeth and how they are growing in, identify recurring decay around existing work, reveal an abscessed tooth, and assist in tooth preparations for dental procedures.
Many dental problems don’t often have symptoms until the disease has progressed to a point where a tooth may need major work or worse, to a point where it is non-restorable. As a hygienist, I have seen many cavities and abscesses that didn’t hurt (yet) and would have been unnoticed if dental x-rays weren’t done.
So how often should you get x-rays? The frequency of getting x-rays of your teeth often depends on your dental and medical history. Some patients with a history of dental decay or gum disease may need x-rays as often as every 6 months, others who visit the dentist regularly and don’t have history of gum disease or any teeth problems may only need x-rays annually. If you are a new patient, our office takes a full mouth series of x-rays as part of the initial exam. Full mouth series of x-rays helps us do a comprehensive exam on a patient and helps establish a base record from which to compare changes that may occur over time.
Are dental x-rays safe? Radiation exposure is very important and something we take seriously. Advances in dentistry over the years have led to a number of measures that will minimize the risks associated with x- ray exposures. In terms of radiation from dental x-rays, they are actually lower than the background dose of radiation received by an average person on an average day or even riding on a plane.
If you have any questions or concerns about x-rays be sure to talk to your dentist about how often x-rays are needed for you and why they are being taken.
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