There has been some buzz about dental X-Rays. Are they really necessary, why do we need them, how are they useful to diagnosis and treatment plan? Well, we’re going to attempt to address some of these concerns.
Dental X-Rays are essential to a dentist’s diagnostic and treatment procedures, since they are able to detect underlying oral issues which physical examinations cannot detect. Through dental X-Rays, a dentist can find out whether you have cavities, issues in the jaw bones and surrounding ligaments, tumors and gum diseases and infections.
How often you should have an X-ray done however differs from one patient to the next. Your dentist should consider such factors as your age, levels of risk and your overall health before deciding to recommend dental X-rays for you.
What needs to be dispelled is the notion that everyone should have dental X-rays taken every time they go for annual dental check-ups. Instead, they should be tailored on individual basis. The ADA determined that barring arising issues requiring X-Ray diagnosis, healthy children may have dental X-rays taken every year or two and healthy adults do so every two to three years.
What’s the risk?
We are all continually being exposed to radiation we can do little about, phones, microwaves and other electronics, so definitely we want to limit any further exposure owing to the risks associated with radiation. There was a study released and published in April’s issue of Cancer that linked frequent dental X-rays to greater risk for brain tumors and meningioma’s, particularly if they are done in childhood.
From 1989, the American Dental Association recommended that dental X-Rays be taken only when necessary for diagnosis or treatment of a patient. The ADA also published some guidelines to assist dentists to limit the exposure to radiation to the lowest levels possible. Such guidelines include having on protective aprons and acquiring X-ray machines with lower radiation emissions.
There is a lot of information being released and a lot of studies are being conducted to try and pin down the risks versus gains of dental X-Rays, which is a good thing. However, it’s important not to get carried away amid the mountains of contradicting information. What you need to know is that you should probably allow your dentist to carry out dental X-Rays only if a problem is detected or suspected and needs to be looked into.
For your annual or bi-annual routine check-ups, try to find out why the dentist wants to take the x- ray, and if it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, ask the dentist to forego the procedure. This is especially true for children, whose tissues are not as yet fully developed and therefore more susceptible to damage.