Dental x-rays are a vital diagnostic tool for pediatric dentists, but many parents worry about the radiation that their children are being exposed to. The truth is, exposure to radiation from dental x-rays is minimal. In fact, compared to undetected and untreated dental problems, dental x-rays represent a far lower health risk.
To ease your mind further, here are some other positive facts about dental x-rays:
Fact #1 – Dental x-rays are for more than just cavities. Essentially, dental x-rays gives the dentist a more comprehensive look at the overall structure of the teeth. This is very helpful in locating and treating certain cavities, but x-ray films are also used to identify erupting teeth, detect bone diseases, evaluate the results of injuries, and treat conditions that are not easily detected in normal clinical exams.
Fact #2 – Dental x-rays are especially important for children. X-rays are crucial for children because their teeth are growing and changing so rapidly. Plus, children are more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. For children prone to tooth decay, the American Pediatric Dental Association recommends x-rays be taken every 6 months to catch the tooth decay early. Other children need them less frequently.
Fact #3 – Dental x-rays are only taken when necessary. Every child is unique and the needs for dental x-rays varies from child to child. Pediatric dentists will only take films after reviewing your child’s medical and dental history and performing a clinical exam. If the dentist believes they need information that the visual exam did not provide, they will take x-rays, but only with the proper precautions in place.
Fact #4 – Dental x-rays are much safer than ever before. Contemporary safeguards have lessened the amount of radiation from dental x-rays more than ever before. Children are given lead body aprons and shields to wear. X-rays are taken more quickly with high speed film and digital imaging. Last but not least, the x-ray beam is restricted to the area of interest with other x-rays being filtered out.
One final way to reduce radiation? Avoid getting a new set of x-rays when you change to a new dentist. Ask your previous dentist to send copies of your child’s films to your new dentist. Since children switch to new providers all the time, sharing x-rays is a courtesy that pediatric dentists extend to one another.