Dental X-rays play a key role in oral health. They enable a dentist to review their patients’ oral health development and identify underlying problems related to the teeth, jaw and soft tissues of the mouth. Plus, X-rays help a dentist provide an accurate diagnosis and determine the best course of action to treat oral health issues.
There are several other reasons why a dentist may recommend dental X-rays, too. These reasons include:
- Monitor Oral Health Injury Healing and Recovery: If a child or adult suffers a mouth injury, a dentist may use an X-ray to track the patient’s healing progress and ensure that he or she can make a full recovery.
- Identify Oral Infections: Dental cavities, gingivitis and other oral infections are problematic. Thanks to an X-ray, a dentist is better equipped than ever before to identify an oral infection before it gets out of hand.
- Determine If an Orthodontic Treatment Is Necessary: A dentist sometimes uses an X-ray to determine whether to recommend an orthodontic treatment.
Not all dental X-rays are created equal. In fact, a dentist may recommend one or more of the following X-rays:
- Bitewing: Examine the crowns of the upper and lower teeth in one section of the mouth, identify cavities in tough-to-reach areas of the mouth and assess fillings.
- Periapical: Display a tooth from the crown to the root in order to examine one or two teeth for root problems, cavities and oral health issues that affect the surrounding jaw bone.
- Panoramic: Show the entire mouth and is often used to track a child’s tooth development to determine if orthodontics are necessary.
- Occlusal: Illustrate the arch of the teeth from either the top or bottom jaw.
- Orthodontic: Depict the side of a child’s head.
- Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT): Provide a 3D view of the patient’s mouth to help a dentist assess the development and space of their teeth.
X-rays emit some radiation, but according to the American Dental Association (ADA), radiation exposure due to dental X-rays is minimal in comparison to both humanmade and natural radiation sources. Americans receive an average radiation dose of about 0.62 rem (620 mrem) annually, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports. Meanwhile, the ADA notes that dental radiographs account for roughly 2.5% of the effective radiation dose received from all medical radiographs and fluoroscopies (medical X-ray imaging procedures).
X-ray technologies and methods vary in dental practices and medical offices across the United States. Yet efforts are underway to make X-rays as safe as possible for kids and adults nationwide.
For example, the ADA promotes Image Gently, a national X-ray safety campaign that was launched in 2008. Image Gently encourages dentists and other medical professionals to limit radiation doses during pediatric medical imaging exams. It also offers the following X-ray safety guidelines for pediatric dental professionals:
- Use X-rays based on a patient’s needs, not as a routine
- Choose the fastest image receptor available
- Select CBCT only when necessary
- Focus the X-ray beam exclusively on the patient treatment area
- Provide a patient with a thyroid collar or shield during an X-ray procedure
- Limit X-ray exposure to a “child-size” dose
The ADA is one of more than 80 healthcare organizations to promote Image Gently. But as of today, there are no standard X-ray safety guidelines for all U.S. dental practices and medical offices. This means the amount of radiation exposure from an X-ray may vary between dental and medical procedures. It also means the amount of radiation exposure from an X-ray may differ based on where a patient goes for dental or medical treatment.
How Does The Super Dentists Handle Patient X-Rays?
At The Super Dentists of San Diego, we strive to provide safe, effective dental care for both children and adults. As part of our commitment to our patients and their health and well-being, we use state-of-the-art X-ray technologies to help protect kids and adults from radiation exposure.
Our zero- and no-radiation cavity detection technologies allow us to use autofluorescence to identify cavities and tissue damage in the mouth. They help us accurately detect dental issues and provide an instant diagnosis of cavities and cracks in the teeth. Then, if we identify an oral health problem, we can treat only the diseased area accordingly.
The Super Dentists provide digital, panoramic and cephalometric X-rays as well. Our digital X-rays are instantaneous, and our X-ray results can be shared with medical caregivers worldwide. Whereas the average dental office’s bitewing or posterior-anterior (PA) X-rays emit 0.5 mrem of radiation, our digital X-rays emit approximately 0.08 mrem of radiation.
Comparatively, our panoramic and cephalometric X-rays are used for orthodontic treatments. They provide 2D images of a patient’s mouth and jaw, as well as help us diagnose a patient’s oral health problems and map out a personalized treatment plan. That way, we can best help a patient achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
The Super Dentists only perform dental X-rays when they are absolutely necessary. If they are needed, we require a patient to wear a lead apron to protect his or her organs against radiation exposure during the X-ray procedure. We will quickly and safely perform the X-rays, review the results and offer a treatment recommendation based on our findings. If a patient has any concerns or questions before or after an X-ray procedure, we are ready to respond to them.
The Bottom Line on Dental X-Ray Safety
A child’s safety is a parent’s top priority. However, dental practices use different X-ray technologies that emit varying amounts of radiation. Some dentists may also recommend that you or your child receive X-rays regularly – despite the fact that these X-rays may be unnecessary.
At The Super Dentists, the health and well-being of our patients guide our day-to-day efforts. We understand the radiation exposure dangers associated with X-rays, and to combat these risks, we deploy the latest X-ray technologies. Our team goes above and beyond the call of duty to keep patients safe during X-ray procedures and performs X-rays on an as-needed basis. We devote time and energy to teach our patients about X-rays. By doing so, we help our patients weigh the pros and cons of X-ray procedures so they can make an informed decision based on their personal needs.
Dental X-rays may seem complicated at first, but The Super Dentists are happy to help patients take the guesswork out of X-rays and X-ray safety. To find out more about our dental X-rays or to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists, please contact us today at 1 (855) GO SUPER.