Dental x-rays

Been to the dentist lately? If you have, you probably got an X-ray as part of your exam. Dental X-rays help your dentist diagnose and treat oral conditions, like periodontal diseases and cavities, that they may not be able to detect with their eyes and instruments alone.


Are dental X-rays safe?

Dental x-rays use very low levels of radiation and are generally safe. However, all radiation can be damaging and is cumulative over a lifetime. Experts agree that X-rays should only be taken when they are absolutely necessary and your dentist can’t make a diagnosis without the information only the X-ray can provide. Delta Dental's X-ray frequency limitations are designed to minimize exposure, Also, as a precaution, your dentist should cover your body with a lead apron when taking X-rays of your teeth. Research indicates that this prevents up to 94 percent of the radiation from reaching your chest, abdomen and reproductive organs. For most X-rays, the dental office should also place a lead collar to shield your thyroid gland.


How often are dental X-rays needed?

How often you need dental X-rays depends on your dental health. Those at lower risk for dental disease and little history of past dental problems need them less frequently than those at high risk or with a lot of existing dental work. The American Dental Association/U.S. Food and Drug Administration (ADA/FDA) guidelines recommend that adults with no oral health problems typically will only need X-rays every two-to-three years. People who are at high risk for cavities or have a history of advanced gum disease may need X-rays more frequently.


The ADA/FDA guidelines recommend a 6-to-8 month interval for adolescents and adults at higher risk and 6-to-12 months for higher risk children. The dentist should examine your mouth first to determine if X-rays are needed.  If you change dentists or see a specialist, ask your dentist to send them to your new dentist.


The Selection of Patients for Dental Radiographic Examinations 2012 – American Dental Association, Council on Dental Benefit Programs, Council on Scientific Affairs and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration.

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