Exposure to radiation is something everyone needs to be cautious about. Whether it’s from the sun, an X-ray machine, or the environment, we are exposed to small amounts of radiation all the time. What’s important is to limit it to minimal necessary levels. Thankfully, advances in dental X-rays have dramatically decreased exposure levels. Today a standard dental X-ray exposes you to less radiation than flying in an airplane.
Why X-rays Are Important
X-rays are an essential tool in dental health, allowing your dentist to see what’s going on behind the scenes with your teeth, gums, and jawbones. They make it easy to detect cavities, but more importantly, without X-rays it would be next to impossible to identify what’s going on at the roots of the teeth. Using X-rays, dentists can identify problems at their earliest stages.
It’s especially important for children to get X-rays both to identify the progress of their incoming teeth and to keep an eye out for possible tooth decay. Even pregnant women should consider dental X-rays. A mother’s oral health can have a big impact on her child and routine dental screening can help identify serious conditions before they become a problem. With proper shielding, X-rays can be taken with no danger to the mother or the baby.
There are two main types of X-rays:
Intraoral X-rays are used to check for tooth decay and root health. These X-rays give your dentist a clear and specific picture of each tooth.
Extraoral X-rays are used to look for impacted teeth or problems with the jawbones or surrounding structures.
What About the Lead Bib?
When working with radiation, it’s important to stay safe. The technician operating the X-ray machine is licensed and certified to make sure everything gets done properly. While the lead bib is there to protect you from X-ray exposure, contemporary X-ray devices already use low and targeted doses of radiation. Use of high film speed X-rays has radically reduced radiation exposure (by more than 50 percent) and digital X-rays are even more efficient. All this means that the risk of modern day dental X-rays is extremely minimal, especially when compared to their dental health benefits.
How Often You Should Get X-rays
For most healthy adults, the American Dental Association recommends getting dental X-rays every one to two years. Children and people with ongoing dental health concerns need them more often. New patients should always get a full set of X-rays. Most importantly, we want you to be informed about your own dental health and make the right choices to keep you smiling for years to come.
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