Some of the most common questions we get at Ellis Family Dentistry have to do with dental x-rays:
Are they safe?
Why do I or my kids need them?
And how often should I get them?
These are great questions (and we love how much you prioritize your health). The answers can get complex quickly, so we’ll do our best to cover the basics here.
Let’s start with the most important question—safety. Both the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) test dental x-rays to make sure they’re safe for patients of all ages. These governing bodies revise their guidelines when any advances in science and technology provide new methods to reduce exposure.
Thanks to faster film speeds, digital X-rays, and protective aprons and thyroid collars, the X-ray of today is far superior to those of even just a decade ago. This applies to children, too. Today’s X-rays are so safe, in fact, that the amount of radiation a child is exposed to in an X-ray of the back molars is roughly equivalent to the amount of radiation they are exposed to in the environment on a daily basis.
Why Do You Need X-Rays?
X-rays, also called radiographs, help your dentist spot conditions, like cavities, tooth misalignment, and abscesses, that they can’t see through a visual examination. X-rays are especially important for children because they are generally more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. The benefits of X-rays, which include diagnosing decay, pathology, or any abnormalities, far outweigh the risks of exposure to this minimal dose of radiation.
How Often Should I Get Them?
Your X-ray schedule depends on a number of factors, including your medical and dental history. Generally, patients are recommended to undergo a set of x-rays annually. Patients without a history of cavities or dental disease can undergo one set of x-rays every two to three years as mutually agreed by the patient and dentist. The best way to reduce the number of x-rays you need is to follow good oral hygiene at home.