Q: Are Dental X-Rays Safe and Why and How Often Should I Have Them Taken?
A: Dental x-rays are a source of radiation but exposure is extremely low when compared to some medical x-rays. High speed films and lead apron shields allow dentists to take a complete oral series of films (18) very safely with exposure 800 times lower than a chest x-ray. This makes them safe even if necessary during pregnancy. Digital dental x-ray systems further reduce exposure by 50 percent.
Dental x-rays are an important part of your oral examination, along with a visual exam. This allows the dentist to best evaluate a patient’s oral health. X-rays can detect unseen decay between teeth, bone disease (loss), root canal infections, abscesses and cysts, some tumors or developmental problems, especially in children.
How frequently dental x-rays are needed depends on your medical and dental history. Patients with high risk factors (ie. dry mouth, recent decay, or gum disease), require x-rays every 6 months; patients with no risks only every 12-24 months. Your dentist should review your particular situation and determine what is best for you.