With each new piece of information we gain, we become more educated and more aware. But we also become more anxious – and that leads to controversy surrounding once-innocuous practices. While the general concern over radiation exposure during x-rays has always existed, we’re learning more that helps shed light on the true risks involved. Educate yourself on the pros and cons of x-rays so that you can form your own opinion, and better discuss the risks with your dentist.
You receive more x-rays at your dentist’s than any other healthcare provider, as they are indispensable in the diagnosis of decay. Handheld dental tools and the human eye can only do so much. When decay forms between teeth, or in cracks and fissures, x-ray images are necessary to reveal the problem. Of course, we’re always trying to minimize the risk of patient exposure to radiation, so x-rays are only taken at specific intervals. Keep reading to learn how often they might be recommended for your smile.
Your Dental X-Ray Schedule
There are a few different decay risk categories. Your placement will determine how often we take bitewing x-rays.
Low risk (regular exams, good hygiene) – If you typically do not have cavities, take good care of your teeth, and visit the office regularly, you’ll likely only need bitewing x-rays every 2-3 years. Depending on your oral and systemic health, we may take more extensive x-rays every 3-5 years to check on your tooth roots and jaw bone density.
Higher risk – If you frequently experience decay, have periodontal disease, or have recently received dental implants, we’ll want to x-ray your teeth more often to be sure that everything is healthy and no bone tissue is being lost. Once per year is typically adequate, although we will take more frequent x-rays if you’ve had a recent surgical procedure.
Children – Since children’s teeth are changing rapidly, they require x-rays more often – sometimes every year. This allows us to ensure that all oral structures are developing properly.
What Risks are Associated with X-Rays?
As we learn more about the health issues potentially linked to frequent x-rays, it’s actually becoming clear that x-rays are safer than we previously believed. Even those who sustain frequent exposure, like the hygienists who take multiple x-rays every day, have not shown a higher frequency of cancer or other radiation-associated diseases. We’ll continue to stay abreast of the current research and pass the most beneficial practices along to our patients.
If you ever have questions about your x-rays, just get in touch to learn more.
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