Digital X-ray Use and Safety

Q: How often should a child have dental X-ray films?

A: Since every child is unique, the need for dental X-ray films varies from child to child. Films are taken only after reviewing your child’s medical and dental histories and performing a clinical examination, and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual examination cannot.

In general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are more susceptible than adults to tooth decay. For children with a high risk of tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends X-ray examinations every six months to detect cavities developing between the teeth. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require X-rays less frequently.

Q: Why should X-ray films be taken if my child has never had a cavity?

A: X-ray films detect much more than cavities. For example, X-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.

Q: Will X-ray films be taken routinely?

A: No. X-ray films are recommended only when necessary to evaluate and monitor your child’s oral health. The frequency of X-ray films is determined by your child’s individual needs. If your child’s previous dentist obtained X-ray films, request copies be sent to your new pediatric dentist to help reduce radiation exposure.

Q: How safe are dental X-rays?

A: Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems.

Q: What safeguards are used to protect my child from X-ray exposure?

A: Lead body aprons and shields help protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the X-ray beam to the area of interest. We utilize digital x-rays, which reduce the radiation exposure of your child by almost 80% compared to the standard dental x-rays.  By being digital, we can store your child’s x-rays in our computer.  This also allows us to send your child’s record to other dentists or orthodontist by e-mail when you request it.  Digital x-rays eliminate the need to use chemicals normally used in standard dental x-ray developers, keeping our environment cleaner at the same time assuring that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.