A dental X-Ray is crucial in helping catch dental problems before they turn into painful or costly situations. Dental X-Rays allow the dentist to see conditions that are not visible to the naked eye, like 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 kind of like visible light. The only thing that makes X-Ray different from light is that light does not possess the adequate energy to go through a person’s body like X-Rays.
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 are designed to 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 because their teeth and jaws are still developing, and their teeth are more likely to be affected by 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 usually the type of X-Ray necessary when the dental patient suffers from pain and other complications on one side of the mouth or a single tooth.
- The next one is BWX or bitewings. This type of X-Ray is taken once 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 in-between teeth as these are often spots where most cavities emerge.
- The final one 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, this is 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 a FMX. However, this is only recommended for adults and youth who have no gum disease.