may be concerned when your dentist tells you that x-rays need to be
taken. You may wonder whether they are really necessary, how you can
benefit from them, and whether or not there will be any risk to your
health. We'll try to provide some specific answers to those questions
Are dental x-rays necessary?
they provide information for detection, diagnosis and treatment of conditions
that can threaten your oral and general health. Many of these diseases
are not visible with the naked eye. Here is a list of conditions that
can only be detected using x-rays:
find decay in between the teeth.
detect dental abscess before any other signs are present.
detect bone cysts.
see the condition of periodontal bone levels.
see the condition of tooth roots.
determine the condition of existing restorations.
determine the presence of impacted or un-erupted teeth.
locate deep plaque and tartar.
see the relative position of the tooth roots to the sinuses.
determine if orthodontics is necessary and appropriate.
How often should dental x-rays
X-rays frequency is determined on
an individual basis. It is necessary to start with a full set of x-rays,
and update that set with recall x-rays at least once per year. For patients
who have had extensive crowns or fillings done, or if the patient has
had treatment for periodontal disease, the x-rays need to be done more
is a full-mouth series of x-rays?
This is a set of x-rays that targets
all the teeth individually. Generally, this includes 18 to 20 x-rays.
What is a panoramic x-ray?
Panoramic x-rays cover the entire
mouth, jaw and sinuses on a single film. This type of x-ray is most
useful in the detection of many problems including abscesses and impacted
teeth, but are not precise enough to detect small cavities in between
How much radiation is involved
with dental x-rays?
Using state of the art technology,
a full set of x-rays will deliver a dose of 3 millirem of radiation.
This is equal to 4 days of being outdoors. Federal and state regulations
for workers whose occupation involves exposure to radiation sets 5000
millirems of radiation per year as safe.
Who determines how much radiation
The Center for Devices and Radiological
Health of the Food and Drug Administration (www.FDA.gov),
the American Dental Association (www.ADA.org),
the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements are a
few of the organizations that monitor x-ray usage. Many states also
have regulations regarding x-rays and x-ray equipment.
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