Dental x-rays are a common diagnostic procedure that is considered extremely safe. Digital dental x-rays have very low doses of radiation, producing just a fraction of what your child might be exposed to in other imaging procedures. If you’re worried about whether your child needs dental x-rays, it’s helpful to dive a little deeper into what dental x-rays involve, why they’re performed, and how they’re best handled.
When these x-rays are performed properly with adequate safety precautions in place, there’s very little cause for concern.
Who Needs Dental X-Rays?
Dental x-rays are used diagnostically to help dentists see issues that are otherwise nearly invisible to the naked eye. Children receive dental x-rays so dentists can better identify and treat various issues and monitor development. Using these x-rays, your healthcare provider can see:
- Areas of decay, including those in between teeth or under a filling
- Abscesses, which are infections at the root of the tooth or between the tooth and gum
- Changes in the root canal
- Development of permanent teeth
Without an x-ray, many of these problems could go undiagnosed. With an x-ray as a reference, dentists are also better equipped to properly care for you child.
Reasons a Pediatric Dentist Might Take X-rays
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has recommendations for when dental x-rays for a child patient might be needed, regardless of age. The recommendations are based on certain conditions, some of which are listed below:
- A history of dental caries, or cavities
- Tooth pain or trauma
- Family history of unusual dental issues
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Loose teeth
- Unexplained bleeding or sensitivity
- Unusual characteristics of teeth, including abnormal eruption, growth/development, color, or other unusual factors
Some Interesting Facts
There is minimal radiation exposure with dental x-rays.
Every year, we are exposed to natural background radiation from air, wind, water, the ground, and other environmental factors. Millisievert (mSv) is the measurement used for radiation exposure.
The mSv of natural background radiation is greater than the exposure from dental x-rays.
Although dental x-rays are safe, extra care is taken with radiographs for children. For example:
- Patients are protected with a thyroid shield and an apron to minimize exposure.
- Exposure parameters are set as slow as possible.
- X-ray exposure time is shortened because children have smaller teeth than adults.
It’s important for children to visit the dentist regularly, and to get x-rays as recommended by the dentist. The exact schedule for these x-rays will vary depending on the child’s individual needs.
Call our office today to schedule a visit for your child: 816-479-5562.