The team at Preferred Family Dentistry is devoted to providing the highest quality care to all of our patients. One of the questions our clients ask is whether radiographs (x-rays) are safe. This article will walk you through the safety measures we ensure to protect you and your family, as well as the kinds of x-rays used in our practice, and the benefits and risks associated with these tools.
What Kind of X-Rays Does Your Las Vegas Dentist Use?
Preferred Family Dentistry uses four types of x-rays on our patients:
- Bitewings are individual x-rays of the top part of each tooth. It’s very helpful for showing decay that’s hiding between the teeth.
- Panoramic x-rays pan all the way around your jawbone and teeth, showing your bite, the tissue and nerves, wisdom teeth, and more. This is a great tool for spotting lesions on the jaw or tumors along with helping diagnose TMJ and structural issues.
- Periapical x-rays show teeth from the very top to the tip of the root, which is helpful for spotting infection inside the tooth.
- Occlusal x-rays are used for children.
Periodic x-rays are extremely important for seeing problems that are hidden from the naked eye. X-rays let dentists diagnose problems well before they become painful and allow your dentist to see bones, the roots, and the inside of your teeth.
X-rays expose you to a small amount of radiation. The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that healthy adults should have x-rays taken every one to two years. The recommended frequency for children is anywhere from six months to two years.
Interestingly, most adults receive more radiation from the sun and other environmental factors every year than they do from x-rays. However, the FDA and ADA say the frequency of x-rays for adults and children depends on your health, age, and your history of tooth decay.
According to the American College of Radiology four bitewing x-rays, which is what many people get in a routine exam, give about .005 millisieverts of radiation. The ADA says, “Radiation exposure associated with dentistry represents a minor contribution to the total exposure from all sources, including natural and man-made.”
X-Ray Safety – Digital X-rays
The process of having a bitewing x-ray, which is common in any dental practice, includes biting down on a piece of x-ray film while the dental assistant takes the x-ray. The patient would wear a protective apron to block any unwanted radiation from entering the body.
However, Preferred Family Dentistry uses the most advanced digital x-rays available. Dental Economics says, “Radiation from digital X-rays can be as little as 10 percent of what patients would be exposed to with film-based radiography.” Digital x-rays are a more comfortable procedure; instead of biting down on x-ray film, there is a sensor placed inside the mouth that captures the images. It’s a much less invasive process. Because the x-ray is very targeted and the rest of your body is shielded, it ensures that only a small amount of x-ray hits the smallest part targeted.
Now, the images of your teeth and jaw can be saved electronically on the computer. Digital x-rays use considerably less radiation than traditional x-ray machines and are a much safer option for our patients.