When most people think of reasons to get an X-ray, they picture broken bones and a trip to the emergency room. But X-rays from your local dentist are far more common. Why do dentists X-ray your teeth, and is this procedure safe?
Reasons to Have Dental X-Rays
The purpose of a dental X-ray is to examine parts of the mouth that aren’t visible to the naked eye. People of all ages can safely receive X-rays from their local dentist. Here are the top reasons X-rays are recommended for dental patients:
- Observe how permanent teeth are developing in a child’s mouth before they erupt through the gum line.
- Determine if the patient has room for wisdom teeth to come through. If not, an extraction may be recommended.
- Figure out if the patient has any extra or missing teeth that could affect their dental care.
- Identify the presence of cavities, infections, cysts, tumors or abscesses that aren’t visible from the surface.
- Prepare the patient for braces.
Why Dental X-Rays are Considered Safe
Radiation exposure is the biggest concern people have about receiving X-rays. However, the American Dental Association points out that the dose of radiation from a dental X-ray is only 2.5 percent of the total radiation patients are exposed to from receiving regular medical X-rays. The levels are so low that radiation exposure from natural sources such as soil and radon are far higher.
How to Make Dental X-Rays as Safe as Possible
While there is little concern that the minuscule amount of radiation from a dental X-ray could cause a patient any harm, your local dentist should still take the following precautions to minimize your exposure as much as possible:
- Require patients to wear a leaded apron to protect the chest, abdomen, and pelvic area from radiation. Offer leaded collars for patients with thyroid conditions.
- Train staff members to use X-ray machines safely.
- Use the latest digital X-ray equipment, which minimizes radiation exposure compared to older technology that develops images on film.
- Allow pregnant patients to opt out of receiving dental X-rays.
At Zen Dental Center, we use advanced digital dental X-rays to help us see what’s going on under the surface. We highly recommend this quick, painless procedure as part of your routine dental care, but you can always opt out if you wish. To schedule your next dental exam and X-ray with a reliable local dentist, please call our Seattle office at 206-324-1100 today.