When you go to a dentist, you may sometimes be asked to take a dental x-ray so that the condition of your teeth and gums can be assessed. Dental x-rays are very common as a diagnostic procedure and they are considered very safe. Modern digital dental x-rays are extremely safe because they have very low doses of radiation. Compared to the amount of radiation that you would be exposed to another imaging procedures, dental x-rays produce only very limited doses of radiation.
If your dentist has asked you to take a dental x-ray and you are worried about whether it is safe and whether you should follow the procedure because of some other conditions such as pregnancy, it can help to understand what dental x-rays really are the reasons why an x-ray is prescribed, and how they are usually handled.
X-rays are generally performed with safety precautions in place. So there is absolutely no reason for you to worry. If you want to do a routine dental examination with four bite-wing x-rays, you will not be exposed to more radiation then what you would experience during a two hour aeroplane ride.
When do you need a dental x-ray?
A dental x-ray is usually suggested by a dentist for diagnostic reason. They help dentist see all the dental problems very clearly. Some issues that are invisible to the naked eye can be revealed using x-rays. When a patient receives dental x-rays, it allows the dentist to see the following.
- Is there bone loss which may have been caused by gum disease?
- Which are the areas of tooth decay? Is there a decay between teeth or under an existing filling?
- Are there any abscesses or infections that are present at the root of the tooth?
- Are there any signs of tumours or cancers?
- Has an infection progressed to such a stage as to require root canal procedure?
Without a dental x-ray, your healthcare provider may not be able to diagnose many of these problems. With an x-ray, the dentist is well equipped to really understand what is going on with the teeth, and they can also prepare dental implants, braces, dentures, and other dental accessories to perfectly fit your teeth and mouth.
What is a child needs a dental x-ray?
If you have a child who needs a dental x-ray, it is only natural to be concerned. Children are more sensitive to radiation than adults. However, there is absolutely no reason to worry. The amount of radiation emitted during the dental x-ray is still within the safe limits even for a child.
The jaws and the teeth of a child are constantly undergoing changes. Therefore, it is very important to keep a close watch on how the teeth and jaw are developing. X-rays are very important for diagnosing dental conditions accurately in young patients. A dental x-ray can help the dentist understand the following:
- It can help the dentist ensure that the mouth of the child is large enough to accommodate all the new teeth that are coming in
- It can help monitor the wisdom tooth that is coming in, and take adequate precautions if it is likely to cause problems
- A dental x-ray will help understand weather the milk teeth is giving way to the permanent teeth
- A dental x-ray will also help identify gum diseases and tooth decay at the earliest stage
Should you get a dental x-ray during pregnancy?
If you are pregnant, that is one condition where it is generally advisable to avoid all sorts of x-rays including dental x-ray. Even though the radiation is very minimal, it may be best to avoid exposure to any type of x-rays to ensure the health of the foetus. If you are pregnant, make sure that you inform your dental practitioner about this because it will help them modify the diagnostic and treatment options based on this information.
There may be some instances where pregnant women are still advised to get dental x-rays. If there is some dental emergency, you may need to get an x-ray. If there is some concern that outweighs the slight risk of a dental x-ray, then it is advisable to get an x-ray which will aid in proper diagnosis and treatment.
Also remember that women who have poor gum health have higher risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy. Therefore, it is extremely important that you take care of your dental health throughout your pregnancy.
If at all you need an x-ray during the pregnancy, your dental practitioners will take or precautions possible. A thyroid collar and the lead apron will be used during the x-ray.
There are many safety precautions that you can take to minimise the risk of x-rays. Speak to your dentist about whether she can use the lowest radiation setting possible especially if the x-ray is for children. If you are worried about exposing certain parts of your body certain parts of your body from to radiation, ask about lead aprons that can be draped over the body.
Get x-rays done only when it is absolutely necessary. There is no schedule or routine to follow for dental x-rays, it is done only when it is necessary. It is best to leave the decision to your dentist.
Dental x-rays are considered very safe. However, it is wise to remember that any x-ray procedure exposes you to a certain amount of radiation, and therefore you should be careful not to undergo an x-ray without adequate reason. Sometimes, you can provide exercise from my previous dentist to your new dentist in order to minimise the need for taking new x-rays.