A dental X-Ray is crucial in helping catch dental problems before they turn into serious, costly situations. Dental X-Rays allow the dentist to see conditions that are not visible to the naked eye. This might include bone loss beneath the gums. X-Rays can even detect oral problems that hide between your teeth. However, while they are an invaluable tool, some people are apprehensive about radiation. So, are dental X-Rays safe for children and adults?
What Exactly Are X-Rays?
X-Rays are similar to visible light. The only thing that makes X-Rays different from light is that light does not possess the energy to go through a person’s body.
Light and X-Rays alike can create an image on photographic film. Light shines on the outside of objects while X-Rays create photos of the inside of objects.
Dental X-Ray Exams are Safe
According to the American Dental Association, dental X-Rays exams are completely safe. While they require very low radiation exposure levels, dental X-Ray tools and techniques help limit the body’s exposure to radiation. How often X-Rays should be taken depends on your present oral health, age, risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. For example, children may require X-Rays more often than adults. This is because their teeth and jaws are still developing. Likewise, their teeth are more sensitive to tooth decay than those of adults.
Digital X-Rays are even Safer
Hawaii Family Dental has invested in state-of-the-art digital X-Ray. Digital X-Rays can reduce radiation exposure up to 10 times compared to older film-based systems. Here’s a comparison of radiation:
So X-Rays are Safe. What are the Different Types?
- First, the PA or periapical X-Ray (a single image of a tooth) displays both the tooth’s root and top. This is the type of X-Ray used when the dental patient has pain and other complications on one side of the mouth. It’s also useful for problems a patient has with just one tooth.
- The next type of X-Ray is the BWX or bitewings. This type of X-Ray is taken annually. It includes a series of 4 images that focus on the patient’s lower and upper molars. This is specially designed to detect cavities. These allow dental professionals to examine between teeth as these are often spots where most cavities emerge.
- The final type is FMX or a full mouth series of X-Rays. This type of X-Ray combines both bitewings and periapical X-Ray. It includes is about 20 films. Moreover, these X-Rays have more detail than other X-Ray procedures. Usually, digital x-rays are performed at the initial visit, as this provides a complete view of the patient’s entire dental health. After the initial visit, FMX is only necessary once every three to five years.
- The last one is the panoramic X-Ray. Here, the patient bites on a bite block while a scanner revolves around their head. It’s used for the same diagnostics just like in an FMX. However, this is only recommended for adults and youth who have no gum disease.