Why Do I Need X-rays?
Did you know that dentists, even with our high powered headlight and magnifying glasses, can only see about 1/3 of your tooth? Dental x-rays help our dentists to find, diagnose and treat dental problems that may not be visible through visual examination alone.
Dental x-rays are used to:
●Find cavities between the teeth (dental caries)
●Determine the number, size and position of teeth in the mouth
●Check for bone loss caused by periodontal disease (gum disease)
●Check for tooth infections and see tumors or cysts in their early stages.
●Check for any other tooth or bone abnormalities
Without the use of dental x-rays, dentists are not able to diagnose problems in the mouth until they become very large. This leads to more infections, broken teeth, patient discomfort and possible tooth loss. X-rays allow for early diagnosis and treatment of dental problems, which in turn helps patient to avoid larger dental procedures like root canals, crowns and extractions.
Early diagnosis and treatment is critical in situations involving tumors. We check for tumors during your routine dental examination and have a history of finding cancerous lesions in patients that were able to receive potentially lifesaving treatment due to timely x-rays and examination.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
Dental x-rays are considered very safe. Here at McAdams Dental we practice a radiology safety technique called ALARA, which stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable. This means that we will only expose a patient to the minimum amount of radiation necessary to help diagnose and treat them properly. In order to achieve this, we now use an all digital x-ray system. This upgraded technology allows us to limit your radiation exposure to the lowest possible limits...in fact, our digital x-rays produce 90% less radiation than traditional film x-rays.
How much radiation will I get from dental X-Rays?
The amount of radiation absorbed by the body is measured by a unit called microsieverts (mSv). In a typical day, the average American will absorb about 10 mSv as background radiation. Absorption for a routine set of 4 bitewing x-rays, used to check for cavities, is only about 0.8 mSv.
See the table below for some common radiation absorption amounts from our everyday lives.
During your pregnancy, x-rays may be needed as part of your treatment plan for a dental disease. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dental care, including dental x-rays, are safe during pregnancy. Use of a lead apron with a thyroid collar will protect you and your baby from radiation exposure.
How Often Do I Need Dental X-Rays?
How often dental x-rays are taken depends on
●Age of the patient and development of teeth
●Oral health and clinical findings
●Patient’s risk for dental caries and/or periodontal disease
●Presence of signs or symptoms of oral disease or infection.
X-rays may be prescribed as often as 6 months, or as long as 24 months, depending on the individual patient’s risk factors. In our office, we typically recommend most patients get diagnostic bitewing images yearly and a panoramic image every 5 years.
If you are interested in learning more about dental x-rays, or in having a full dental examination, please contact McAdams Dental to make an appointment today. Our staff will be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns and make sure you feel comfortable and safe throughout all your dental care. (480) 991-4727