How Safe Are Dental X-Rays?
Dental x-rays are a common diagnostic procedure, that when performed properly with adequate safety precautions in place, there’s very little cause for concern. Digital dental x-rays emit very low doses of radiation. A routine examination exposes you to around the same amount of radiation you would experience during a one to two hour flight on an airplane.
When Would You Need a Dental X-Ray
Dental x-rays help dentists see issues they would not be able to see with their naked eye, so they can better identify and treat various dental conditions. X-rays are also used as a reference for dentists to prepare tooth implants, dentures, braces, and other similar treatments.
The following are dental issues that can be identified with a dental x-ray:
- Areas of decay (between teeth or under a filling)
- Bone loss
- Changes in the root canal
Dental X-Rays and Children
As children are more sensitive to radiation, there is greater concern as to the amount of radiation they are exposed to. However, the radiation from a dental x-ray is still considered safe for children. Dental x-rays are important tools in keeping an eye on a child’s teeth and jaw development.
These x-rays help dentists:
- Ensure the mouth can accommodate incoming teeth
- Monitor growing wisdom teeth
- Determine if the primary teeth are loosening to accommodate new permanent teeth
- Identify decay and gum disease
Dental X-Rays During Pregnancy
Pregnant women should avoid dental x-rays to prevent any radiation exposure from affecting the health of the developing fetus. Therefore, you need to tell your dentist if you are or may be pregnant.
However, if you have a dental emergency or are currently undergoing a dental treatment plan, you may still need x-rays during your pregnancy. Feel free to discuss your options with your dentist to determine the best way to proceed. There are other precautions that can be taken to further reduce the risk of exposure, for example using a leaded apron and thyroid collar. In general, it is always best to keep your dentist informed at all times of any changes in your health or life.