Demystifying Dental X-rays
X-rays are an effective diagnostic tool that help when treating oral health issues. Dentists and radiologists widely use X-rays to identify cracks, cavities, infections, and abnormal teeth and bones. In dentistry, an X-ray is a simple, cheap, and helpful tool that would make treating simple problems more complicated.
However, many myths mislead patients into doubting if X-rays are essential, which can be detrimental to oral health. So, to ensure you understand how and why X-rays are needed, let’s demystify dental X-ray myths.
1. Dental X-ray radiation causes cancer
With digital X-rays, the radiation is minimal. To further protect our patients, the use of a lead apron and thyroid collar are worn. To put things into perspective, a full-mouth series of radiographs, which involves eighteen separate pictures of the teeth, exposes an individual to roughly the same radiation as a plane ride cross-country would. Most regular patients on a routine dental visit would only be prescribed 2 or 4 X-rays yearly to help detect cavities and bone health.
2. X-rays don’t help to diagnose or tend to over-diagnose
This is not true. Cavities, bone loss, and other dental diseases can be diagnosed early to improve the patient’s long-term treatment outcome. Also, the X-rays can help determine if cavities are progressing or if they have become arrested (stopped) and therefore require no treatment. Without X-rays, this image cannot be compared and treatment may be done unnecessarily. The use of X-rays can help diagnose what our eyes would otherwise miss and go untreated.
3. X-rays are two-dimensional and don’t always show the source of the problem
A 3-D X-ray may be necessary to further help with the diagnosis since a standard 2-D X-ray may only provide an indication that there is a problem but not the source
4. X-rays are needed every dental visit
X-rays are only prescribed if needed to help diagnose problems. If you have good oral hygiene and you have few fillings, X-rays can be taken less often. However, if you suffer from tight contacts and a history of many fillings, then you may need to have them done more often. Not all patients get the same treatment and that goes with dental X-rays. When you are pregnant, we also try to limit the number of X-rays that you are exposed to in the first trimester. If you are breastfeeding, then X-rays are safe and not harmful to the baby.
Do not hesitate to have X-rays taken since it is to help keep your teeth and smile longer.