It Seems Like My Dentist Wants to Take X-rays Every Time I Come In, Do I Really Need Them?
Dental X-rays are an essential component of a dental examination to help us make an accurate diagnosis of dental decay and other oral diseases. How often you should have X-rays taken depends on your current health status, age, risk factors, and any signs and symptoms of a potential problem. For example, children may require X-rays more often than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.
X-rays For New Patients
If you are a new patient, Dr. Leitch or Dr. Wiens may recommend a series of X-rays to determine the present status of your oral health and have a baseline to identify later changes as well as to detect cavities, determine your gum and bone health, and evaluate your growth and development. If your previous dentist took X-rays of your teeth and jaws in the past we will ask for a copy of them before your new patient exam. This can often result in fewer X-rays required as we will already have a lot of information from your previous dental records. If the old X-rays are more than 1-2 years old it is likely that they will need to be retaken to detect any new issues, but it is still useful to see the old ones as a baseline. Panoramic X-rays that are up to 5 years old are also still extremely useful!
Can Dental X-rays Give Me Cancer?
Dental X-ray exams are safe; however, they do require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. Dental X-ray tools and techniques are designed to limit the body's exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that radiation exposure is as low as possible. A lead apron minimizes exposure to the upper body and a thyroid collar protects the thyroid, and should also be used whenever possible.
Our office is equipped with digital X-ray technology which greatly minimizes radiation compared to the old method of using film. In addition digital technology allow us to enlarge parts of the X-rays on the computer screen to attain a more accurate diagnosis. We can also show the images to you in real time. Our patients love to see what we see! It makes your examination a lot more interactive.
Pregnancy and Dental X-rays
If you are pregnant, tell your dentist. We will take every precaution possible to protect your baby, and we will often defer the X-rays until after you have your baby unless there is something that must be addressed urgently.
During your pregnancy, you may need to have X-rays taken as part of your treatment plan for dental disease; for example root canal therapy. Use of the lead apron and thyroid collar will protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental X-rays do not need to be delayed if you are breastfeeding.
Do you have questions about our X-ray techniques or systems? Please ask Dr. Leitch or Dr. Wiens when you come to the office!