Digital dental x-rays use the latest technology to capture and store digital images of teeth on a computer. These images are not only clearer, but can be instantly viewed and enlarged, helping the dentist detect dental issues more easily. Digital x-rays can reduce radiation exposure by up to 80-90% compared to traditional dental x-rays (non-digital).
Are dental x-rays necessary?
If your patient is new to a dental practice, they will more than likely take dental x-rays to help establish a baseline (think of this as a starting point to help determine your child’s overall oral health). Dental x-rays are not always necessary, but they do serve a purpose. Pending on the type of x-ray taken, they can help determine if there are any cavities between teeth, provide useful information on the extent of dental cavities or infections, help evaluate a tooth or teeth in terms of how they are developing (especially if a tooth has had dental trauma), provide useful information regarding growth and development, and are required for orthodontic treatment. Your child’s pediatric dentist will determine which x-rays are necessary and the frequency they should be taken. If you do not wish for any dental x-rays to be taken, please inform your child’s pediatric dentist/team. However, without dental x-rays, your child’s pediatric dentist may not be able to fully evaluate your child’s teeth and surrounding tissue; this includes checking for dental cavities.
Are dental x-rays harmful?
If used appropriately, dental x-rays are safe. Today, most dental practices use digital x-rays, which is especially important given that children are exposed to far less radiation than in the past with conventional x-rays. In fact, walking in the park on a sunny day typically exposes people to more radiation than having dental x-rays. Furthermore, the radiation exposure from digital dental x-rays is far less than the radiation exposure from medical x-rays (e.g., mammogram, pelvis, and spine, just to name a few). Taking this a step further, you would need to take almost 100,000 dental x-rays to even come close to reaching your maximum safe yearly dose. This is not to say that children should be overexposed to radiation from digital x-rays all the time. However, as you can see, digital x-rays emit very little radiation and are safe when used properly.
When you weigh these facts against the serious consequences of dental cavities, tooth infections and gum disease, you can be sure that digital dental x-rays are both safe and effective!