Dental X-Rays are essential to preventive dental treatment children and adults alike. These valuable diagnostic tools that allow dentists to see things in the mouth not visible to the naked eye, and prevent problems from developing.
What’s going on inside and between the teeth is equally as important as what's happening on the surface; in some cases, more so. X-rays allow dentists to find and prevent potential problems before or as they arise.
X-Rays allow the dentist to:
- Keep track of the size, number, position, and eruption pattern of children's teeth
- Find hidden damage or decay
- Examine mouth injuries from all angles
- Prepare for braces or other orthodontic treatment
- Determine whether there are any teeth missing
- Determine whether there are any extra teeth
- Identify diseases of the bones
When and how frequently should children have dental x-rays?
This varies from child to child. For the most part, it depends on the progress of your child’s development and the state of his dental health. For children who are at a greater risk for cavities or other oral health issues, the dentist may take x-rays more frequently. For other children, x-rays can be done asn infrequently as once a year.
Oral hygiene and diet are also factors in how often dental x-rays will be necessary for your child.
Types of Dental X-Rays
Panoramic x-rays show all of the teeth on one film. They also display both the upper and lower jaws, the sinuses above the teeth, and the tempromandibular joints. That's an awful lot information in one image! We often use panoramic x-rays to examine facial injuries, orthodontic problems, or to view the mouths of children with physical or mental disabilities. They can also be quite useful for children who have strong gag reflexes or small mouths, because they do not require a film to be placed inside the mouth.
These show the area between the teeth, and help dentists identify if and where cavities are developing. Bitewing x-rays only become necessary once children have two teeth that are touching, which often happens only after a child's first permanent molars have erupted.
Periapical x-rays allow us to view the full crowns and roots of 1 - 3 teeth that are all next to each other. They also show the bone structure surrounding the teeth, so that the dentist can see how a child’s permanent teeth are growing in under the baby teeth.
Occlusal X-Rays show the majority of the upper and lower teeth on a single film, and are sometimes used as an alternative to to panoramic x-rays.
These x-rays are used to evaluate the growth of the jaws in relation to the bones of the skull by showing the head from a side view. Orthodontic x-rays help orthodontists diagnose malocclusion problems and develop treatment plans.
Are dental x-rays safe?
Yes! There's no need for concern; dental x-rays are extremely safe.
Dental x-rays expose your child to only a very tiny level of radiation. In fact, when all the standard safety precautions are taken, modern x-ray equipment can prevent unnecessary radiation, and allows the dentist to focus the x-ray’s beam on a very specific spot in the mouth. High speed film is alos very helpful in reducing patients' radiation exposure. During the x-ray, a lead apron is worn by the patient to further reduce radiation exposure.