Are Dental X-Rays Safe and Needed?
At some point or another during a dentist appointment, your dentist may suggest that you get a dental x-ray. Naturally, some people worry when this suggestion comes up. You might wonder, is it safe? Is it necessary?
The truth is dental x-rays are both safe and important. While people assume they are unsafe because of the radiation involved, in reality, the amounts of radiation are so minimal that you don’t need to worry. If you want to learn more about dental x-rays, and you particularly want the question “are dental x-rays safe and needed?” answered in detail – read on.
What is a Dental X-ray?
Dental x-rays involve high-energy electromagnetic radiation to produce a medical image of your teeth, gums, and mouth. They do this using an x-ray machine in the dental office. That might sound a little scary, but the dental patient must stay still by the machine for a short time while the image gets produced. From there, the dentist can examine the picture.
Are Dental X-rays Safe?
Yes – dental x-rays are completely safe. People might worry about their safety due to the slight exposure to radiation, but that exposure is so small that it barely counts. Dentists didn’t know much about radiation levels in the early days, so they may have exposed themselves too often. However, times have changed, and dentists now know to protect themselves.
As a dental patient, you receive dental x-rays so infrequently that the radiation does not make any difference. For reference, there is only 0.1mrem of radiation in one dental x-ray. When comparing that to the 5mrem of radiation you get from drinking water each year, it really is nothing to worry over! Plus, dentists are medical professionals who use all the best tools and techniques to keep everyone safe.
It’s natural to worry about dental x-rays if you are pregnant. However, the risk is still minimal, even for pregnant women. The American Pregnancy Association and the American Dental Association both deem it safe. However, unless it’s urgent, it’s OK to wait until after your pregnancy if you’re worried.
Why Are Dental X-rays Necessary?
You now know that dental x-rays are safe. The question is, why are they needed? The truth is that dental x-rays are a crucial part of dental care. With them, dentists can detect dental issues early, making the outcome far better for the patient. Here are just some of the problems that dental x-rays can detect:
- Tooth Decay
- Loss of Bone
- Monitor Growth of Teeth/Jaw
- Changes to a Root Canal Treatment
As you can see, dental x-rays can prove crucial when dentists are trying to diagnose an issue. With a simple x-ray, they can see what is going on much more clearly, making it easier for them to start treatment planning. So as a dental patient, it’s in your best interest to get a dental x-ray when your dentist suggests it!
A lot of what dentists find during x-rays can indicate other problems, too. For example, bone loss is a sign of gum disease. So if a dentist spots bone loss early, they can quickly get started on treating gum disease before it worsens.
What to Expect from a Dental X-ray
Even knowing dental x-rays are safe, you might still be worried about what happens on the day. You’ll be pleased to know that x-rays are pain-free, and most people don’t feel discomfort.
While your dentist will tell you what to do on the day, you might feel more comfortable knowing what will happen. In terms of preparation for the x-ray, there isn’t much – all you need to do is brush your teeth beforehand (which you would do before a regular dentist appointment, anyway!).
When arriving at the appointment, you’ll be taken to a separate room specifically for image procedures. The dentist will likely ask you to remove certain items, such as bobby pins or a hearing aid (if you wear one). This is because items like these can interfere with the x-ray. From there, here is what to expect:
- Put on an apron around your neck and torso
- Bite down on a plastic or cardboard frame
- Place your cheeks on the x-ray machine
- Stay still while the x-ray machine produces the images
The images go straight to the dentist’s computer, where they can assess them.
A dental x-ray is often fast, taking just five or ten minutes. However, it might take longer if you have more than one x-ray in a day.
After the x-ray, your dentist will come up with treatment options depending on their findings. That might mean jaw therapy, a root canal, or it might even mean no treatment at all if the images indicate that nothing is wrong! The dentist would not know any of this without the x-ray.
Dental X-rays are an Important Part of Oral Care
X-rays are used for dental and medical purposes to help reach and diagnose, which in turn helps the medical professional develop a dental plan. For dentists, they are crucial. They provide a much clearer image of the mouth than the one they get by simply looking inside while you say “ah.” Dental x-rays are crucial as they show issues like bone loss, cavities, infections, and tumors/growths. Plus, they are 100% safe – you can be sure of that! If you have questions about dental x-rays, you can always ask your dentist about them to clarify any doubts.
If you are looking for a new dental surgery, consider us here at Bafdentistry. We provide a wide range of treatments to ensure every patient who comes to us leaves with a much happier smile. Plus, whether you need a dental x-ray, a root canal, dentures, an extraction, or a simple filling, we handle all treatments with the utmost care. We believe the patient should always come first, so we do everything to make you comfortable! If you have any questions, perhaps about our treatments or prices, do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.