Dental X-rays are a valuable part of dental treatment because they can detect damage to teeth and gums not visible during a routine checkup.
But our patients frequently have questions about dental X-rays, including what they can do, what they can’t do, how often they should be taken, and how safe they are for patients.
At Comfort Dental Centre Buderim our commitment is to your safety and your peace of mind, so we want all our patients to be fully educated about dental X-rays, and why and when we recommend them.
How Often Should Teeth Be X-Rayed?
The frequency of X-rays of your teeth is related to your medical and dental history and current condition. Some people may need X-rays every six months; others with no recent dental or gum disease and who visit their dentist regularly may get X-rays only every couple of years. For new patients, dentists may take X-rays as part of an initial examination to establish a basic record from which to compare changes that may occur over time.
High risk of dental issues is another criteria:
- Children generally require more X-rays than adults because their teeth and jaws are quickly developing and changing, and their teeth are smaller. Decay can reach the inner part of a child’s tooth quicker and spread faster.
- Adults with extensive restorative work.
- People who drink a lot of sugary beverages look for tooth decay (since a sugary mouth creates a perfect situation for cavities to develop).
- People with periodontal (gum) disease to monitor bone loss.
- People who have a dry mouth—known as xerostomia to dentists — whether due to medications (such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines, and others) or other issues (such as damaged salivary glands, Sjögren’s syndrome, or radiation treatment to head and neck). Dry mouth conditions can lead to the development of cavities.
- Smokers to keep track of bone loss resulting from periodontal disease (smokers are at increased risk of periodontal disease).
Are dental X-rays safe?
The brief answer is yes, dental X-rays are safe.
Any X-ray requires radiation, but in the case of dental X-rays, the amount of radiation is very small. And as dental technology has advanced, the amount of radiation used has decreased: today’s modern digital x-rays require much less radiation for exposure than traditional film x-rays do. Four bitewing x-rays, which is what many people get in a routine exam, expose you to approximately .005 millisieverts of radiation. That’s about equivalent to the radiation you get on a normal day from the sun and other daily sources.
Still, the brief exposure to radiation is why the dental assistants take precautions and put those heavy aprons on. There’s lead inside, which blocks the radiation from your body, and the little collar part of it helps to protect your thyroid, all of which minimizes your exposure to radiation.
The answer is slightly different in the case of pregnancy. You may have heard getting an X-ray during pregnancy can be harmful to a baby. This is possible in rare cases, but that concern should be balanced against the fact that in some cases not getting an X-ray can cause harm to you, and thus to your baby.
A healthy mom means a healthy baby, and dental X-rays are part of keeping a mom healthy. Not all X-rays are alike, but most represent little chance of danger to the uterus or developing fetus. This is because dental X-rays focus tightly on the teeth. No matter what treatment you are receiving from Comfort Dental Centre Buderim, always let us know if you are pregnant.
What is the process of taking dental X-rays
The following is the general process for bitewing and periapical X-rays, though procedures do vary:
- The radiographic technician will place appropriate protection.
- A radiographic imaging film or digital imaging sensor will be placed in your mouth behind the tooth or teeth to be imaged, and you will be asked to bite gently on a stabilizing device that holds the imaging film or sensor in position.
- The X-ray tubehead will be aligned with the imaging sensor or film near your cheek.
- X-ray exposure (a fraction of a second) begins when the technician presses a switch.
- The image is processed.
- Your dentist will analyze your X-rays for abnormalities.
- Your dentist will make recommendations appropriate to the diagnostic findings.
Comfort Dental Centre Buderim
Comfort Dental Centre Buderim provides expert care for healthy, beautiful smiles, including quick, safe, and effective X-rays. We serve patients from Buderim and surrounding areas with top-notch dentistry. Our dental practice in Buderim provides the highest quality of dental care, in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, with a commitment to excellent customer service.