Dental X-rays are instrumental in identifying possible diseases in the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a routine oral exam. In both children and adults, dental x-rays can identify and visualize signs of dental problems early, therefore making them easier to treat. Early diagnosis can save money, discomfort, pain, even your life in rare cases!
In adults, dental x-rays are recommended once a year. For children, they are recommended every six months. Why more often for children?
In adults, dental x-rays can identify the following problems:
- Areas of decay that could not be seen with a regular dental exam, for instance, small areas of decay in between teeth or decay under fillings.
- Bone loss, which usually accompanies gum disease.
- Abscesses or other infections.
- Any developmental abnormalities such as tumors or cysts.
- Changes in the bone or root canal due to infection.
In children, x-rays are still used to identify any decay, but other than that, they are used for quite different reasons.
- Ensure there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth.
- Ensure primary teeth are being lost at a rate which allows incoming (permanent) teeth to come in properly.
- Identify any impacted teeth, wisdom teeth, or otherwise.
As opposed to adults, children’s mouths and teeth are developing and changing at a rapid rate. Children are also more susceptible to cavities, and x-rays can identify any signs of tooth decay.
Excellent oral health means excellent overall health, and regular dental x-rays are important to ensure your child’s oral health and comfort. Loss of primary teeth and growth of permanent teeth often don’t go according to plan—just look at all the orthodontic work kids are getting!
Many parents wonder if x-rays are safe for their children, due to the radiation. Pediatric dentists take many measures to make sure dental x-rays are as safe as possible. Contemporary safeguarding techniques mean that dental x-rays contain the smallest possible amount of radiation.
Pediatric dentists agree that the risk of untreated dental problems in children is far higher than the risk of radiation from dental x-rays.
Discuss any concerns or questions you have with your child’s dentists. They are well-equipped to answer all your questions about x-rays. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you teach your children excellent dental habits including brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings. These habits will last a lifetime!