When it comes to our health we often take risks. When we exercise, we risk pulling a muscle, but we do it anyway because of the benefits that come from working out or playing sports. We take vitamins for all sorts of reasons beneficial to our health, but how often do we research side effects? Some of us take them every day. We take risks for health reasons many times without even thinking about it because we believe the benefits are more important than any possible side affects. When it comes to considering having an X-ray at the dentist office, adults and parents often hesitate or feel uneasy and may even say no. But why?
When looking at the science behind the technology, and weighing the risks and benefits to our oral and overall health, the evidence is overwhelmingly supportive of saying yes. Here is why.
If you are an adult: The American Dental Association supports periodic dental X-rays and the ADA website has a wealth of information regarding the use of dental X-rays for all dental patients –adults, children, the elderly, and women who are or may be pregnant. But in general, X-rays allow us to see issues that may be hidden – like tooth decay, infections, and signs of gum disease. Left untreated, dental problems like these can cause more potential issues down the road for you and your family members.
How often X-rays should be taken depends upon your particular situation. We will always go over your history with you and discuss whether or not we recommend a dental X-ray, and for what reason. It’s interesting to note that potential radiation from the average dental X-ray is much smaller than the amount of radiation we receive every year from natural sources from the Earth and atmosphere.
And for children: According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry X-ray examinations at certain points in your child’s life are important to evaluating and monitoring your child’s tooth development and oral health. Because each child is unique, how often we will recommend an X-ray will vary depending upon your child’s specific needs and growth. Children are more susceptible to tooth decay, something an X-ray is very useful in detecting. X-rays reveal more than just cavities, they are also used for a wide range of other purposes including locating erupting teeth, diagnosing bone disease, and planning orthodontic treatment.
As dentists, we are trained on how to minimize the exposure of all of our patients, including children, to radiation. The amount of radiation received at the dentist is extremely small, especially when weighing the potential for undetected and untreated dental problems.
Please let us know at your next appointment if we can answer any additional questions you might have about the benefits of X-rays.