Dental X-rays are typical during most routine visits to the dentist. X-rays can assist the dentist in diagnosing surface problems or underlying decay in a person’s mouth. While many adults are accustomed to receiving these scans, parents often wonder if they are safe for children since patients are exposed to small amounts of radiation during the process. Below you will find helpful information on the purpose of dental X-rays and whether or not they are appropriate for children.
Simply put, X-rays allow dentists to get a better view of the patient’s mouth, especially in areas that aren’t readily visible. These areas might include underneath the gums where adult teeth are forming and inside the teeth themselves. Dentists need to see these areas in order to perform preventive treatments and to deduce where potential problems might occur in the future. X-rays also assist dentists in locating cavities in hard-to-see areas, like between the teeth. With these pictures, dentists can locate the cause of oral pain and swelling, check to see if teeth are healing after trauma, identify how many teeth are present (especially important in children), and view teeth that might be impacted or even missing entirely.
The safety of X-rays is no doubt a concern for some parents due to the exposure to radiation. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) states the radiation that recipients are exposed to is minimal. In addition, recent dental technology has advanced X-ray machinery in such a way that dentists are able to take precautionary measures against undue radiation exposure. For example, the latest equipment allows the dentist to focus the X-ray beam directly onto the oral area in question. This tight focus limits excess radiation exposure to other parts of the body. Furthermore, heavy lead aprons are often used to protect the patient from further radiation.
X-rays are safe for both you and your children. The benefits of X-rays far outweigh any concern over the amount of radiation patients are exposed to. Ensuring your child’s teeth are well taken care of is the best way to limit radiation exposure. Since X-rays are used to identify decay or other oral issues, brushing twice a day for 2 minutes and flossing could help prevent your child from requiring X-rays more often. At Lindner Dental, not only do we follow strict X-ray protocols, but we also limit the number of X-rays taken. Routine cavity checking X-rays are often taken every 6 months at cleanings. We find this to be excessive. While still following the guidelines of the ADA and AAPD and basing our decisions on each individual’s needs, our typical X-ray schedule tends to be every 12-18 months. If you have further questions or concerns about the safety of X-rays, our dentists will be happy to address