Dental X-rays are considered to be safe for both children and adults, according to the Canadian Dental Association.
However, dental X-rays should only be taken when necessary. Dentists typically recommend X-rays during regular check-ups for patients with recent, current or suspected dental problems. That's because dental X-rays help dentists see oral health issues that are otherwise not visible to the naked eye.
While digital dental X-rays do expose people to radiation, they do this in very low doses compared to traditional X-rays. Dentists also take additional measures (such as high-speed film and lead aprons) to reduce the risk of prolonged exposure.
Reasons to Take Digital X-rays
Digital dental X-rays help dentists diagnose and treat oral health issues. They also help to monitor a patient's mouth, teeth, and jaw.
With an X-ray as a source to reference, dentists can create more thorough and effective treatment plans.
Not only are digital X-rays a good option in terms of your health and safety, they also are fast and generally considered to be more comfortable to take, and can reduce your time spent at your dental office.
Also, since the digital image is electronic and appears right on your dentist's computer screen, there is no need to develop the X-rays, which eliminates the need to dispose of harmful waste created by traditional X-rays.
What does a dental X-ray look for?
Dental X-rays are used diagnostically to help dentists see issues that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. Adults receive dental X-rays so dentists can identify and treat various issues. Using these X-rays, your healthcare provider can see:
- Areas of decay, including those in between teeth or under a filling
- Bone loss associated with gum disease
- Abscesses, which are infections at the root of the tooth or between the tooth and gum
- Changes in the root canal
Without an X-ray, many of these problems could go undiagnosed. With an X-ray as a reference, dentists are also equipped to prepare tooth implants, dentures, braces, and other similar treatments.
How often should dental X-rays be taken?
The need for dental X-rays depends on your specific case.
A full mouth series of dental X-rays is recommended for new patients and are usually good for three to five years.
Your dentist may take X-rays of your top and bottom teeth biting together (bite-wing) at your regular check-up appointments once or twice a year.