How Safe Are Dental X-Rays?
Dental x-rays are a general diagnostic procedure that is careful tremendously safe. Digital dental x-rays have very low doses of radiation, producing just a portion of what you are exposed to in other imaging procedures. If you’re worried about whether you need dental x-rays, or wondering if you should forego this procedure due to other medical situation, 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 appropriately with adequate safety precautions in place, there’s very little cause for concern. A routine examination with four bitewing x-rays exposes you to roughly the same amount of radiation you will experience during one to two hours on an airplane.
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. Adults receive dental x-rays so dentists can better 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 better ready to prepare tooth implants, dentures, braces, and other similar treatments.
Dental X-Rays and Children
Many parents are anxious about the impact of dental x-rays on children. Children are more sensitive to radiation. However, the quantity of radiation in a dental x-ray is still considered safe for a child. As children’s jaws and teeth are incessantly changing, it’s essential to keep an eye on their development. These x-rays perform many important purposes for young patients. They help dentists to:
- Determine whether primary teeth are loosening properly to accommodate new permanent teeth
- Identify decay and gum disease early
- Make sure the mouth is large enough to accommodate incoming teeth
- Monitor the development of wisdom teeth
It’s essential for children to visit the dentist regularly, and to get x-rays as recommended by the dentist. The accurate schedule for these x-rays will vary depending on the child’s individual needs.
Dental X-Rays during Pregnancy
Pregnant women are usually advised to avoid dental x-rays. Though the radiation is minimal, it’s best to avoid all exposure when possible for the health of the developing fetus. For this cause, it’s important to tell your dentist if you are or may be pregnant.
However, there are some instances where pregnant women should still have dental x-rays performed. If you have a dental emergency or are in the middle of a dental treatment plan, you may still need x-rays throughout your pregnancy. Discuss the issue with your dentist to decide the best way to proceed. It’s crucial that you balance both your dental and prenatal health. Women with periodontal disease are at a superior risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, so you shouldn’t neglect your teeth during pregnancy.