Dental X-rays are scans of your mouth that a dentist uses to check the health of your teeth. The scans show details of your teeth and surrounding tissue that the dentist cannot see by eye during a routine oral exam.
An X-ray is crucial because it gives your dentist a clearer picture of your dental health beneath the surface. That said, dental health varies from person to person. How often you will need a dental X-ray depends on your age, dental and medical history, and current state of health.
You may need a dental X-ray as frequently as every six months or as infrequent as every two to three years.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends getting dental X-rays every two to three years if your teeth and gums are healthy and free of dental disease. If you have dental issues, you may need dental X-rays every six to twelve months. That will help you monitor underlying problems in your teeth.
Children may need dental X-rays more frequently than adults. That is because their teeth, gums, and jaws are still growing, and they are more likely to develop tooth decay than adults. If you are a new patient, your dentist may recommend a dental X-ray to examine the current condition of your dental health.
Dental X-rays help dentists diagnose various dental problems.
In adults, X-rays help detect:
Damage in the bone or root canal
Infection in the teeth roots
Irregular arch or position of teeth. That helps diagnose problems with your bite, such as overbite, underbite, or crossbite issues
Tumors and cysts
In children, X-rays show:
Teeth spacing and alignment
Whether or not wisdom teeth are growing
Dental X-rays use high-energy light to take images of the internal parts of your teeth and gums.
During the procedure, the radiologist covers you with a lead apron to protect your body from radiation. You may also have to bite a certain device for a few seconds as the radiologist captures a specific part of the mouth or the whole mouth.
Dental X-rays are painless and last a few seconds. Depending on every person’s case, the radiologist may take several scans. These images will capture all the angles and views of your mouth that your dentist needs for diagnosis.
Dental X-rays are generally safe. The amount of radiation they emit is very small, and the protective aprons help reduce the radiation your body will receive. Besides, dentists use X-rays with care and prescribe them only when necessary.
Despite the security of dental X-rays, you may have concerns about exposing your body to radiation from the tests. Talk to your dentist about these concerns and get to know why you need the X-ray and how often you need them. That way, you will get answers to your questions and better understand your treatment plan.
Pregnant women are an exception as they may need to avoid getting X-rays. Radiation exposure may not be safe for growing fetuses. If you are pregnant or believe you could be pregnant, inform your dentist.
For more information on dental X-rays and how often to have them, contact the Pediatric Dental Group at our offices in Honolulu, Hawaii - (808) 593-8828 or Lihue, Hawaii - (808) 245-2131, to book an appointment today.