During a dental check up xrays are often part of the procedure and patients are sometimes concerned about how safe they are. The digital dental x-rays are a very low dose of radiation in comparison to other imaging procedures. Despite this some patients worry about the exposure and might be wondering if these x-rays are necessary and safe so a little investigation might set their mind at ease. If an x-ray is performed properly with adequate safety precautions in use there is very little cause for concern, in fact dental x-rays result in less exposure to radiation than a 2 hour flight on a plane.
Why do we need dental x-rays?
Primarily useful as a diagnostic tool to help the dentist see issues that would otherwise be undetectable to the naked eye x-rays allow the dentist to identify and treat various issues including the following:
- Areas of decay including those between teeth or under a filling.
- Bone loss associated with gum disease
- Abscesses which can be an infection at the root of a tooth or between the tooth and gum
- Changes in the root canal
Without x-rays a problem could go undiagnosed and result in a much bigger issue.
Dental x-rays and children
Parents sometimes are concerned about their children’s exposure to radiation when having dental x-rays. While children are more sensitive to radiation the amount is still considered safe for a child. The constant change a child’s jaw and teeth undergo make it essential to keep a watchful eye on their development. These x-rays assist the dentist to observe the following:
- Ensure the mouth is large enough to accommodate any incoming teeth.
- Detect if primary teeth are loosening properly to make room for new permanent teeth.
- Monitor the development of wisdom teeth.
- Identify tooth decay and any signs of gum disease early.
Regular checkups are an important part of your child’s oral health and x-rays will be a part of that procedure as determined by your dentist.
Dental x-rays and pregnancy
Pregnant women are advised to avoid any exposure to radiation even though the amount in a dental x-ray is minimal. To protect the developing fetus if a woman is pregnant or thinks she could be it’s important to advise your dentist. Expectant mothers should be careful not to neglect their teeth during pregnancy and should x-rays be required the dentist can take extra precautions by using a lead apron and thyroid collar.