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How Often Should I Get Dental X-Rays?

How Often Should I Get Dental X-Rays?

At Innovative Dental Ideas in Hilliard, Ohio, we live up to our name. Dr. James Butler and our team continually seek the best, most advanced tools and techniques to ensure your oral health is in top condition for life. 

One of the areas where we’ve incorporated modern approaches that outshine traditional practices is dental X-rays. Rather than old-school film that produces grainy images, we use digital X-rays, which reduce your radiation exposure and produce high-quality images. We also use cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scanners that take three-dimensional images of your mouth and give us a huge advantage when it comes to diagnosing oral health issues.

Many of our patients ask us how often they need to have X-rays taken, so we’re taking a deeper dive into dental X-rays to explain their purpose and their frequency.

Why do you need dental X-rays?

Primarily, we use dental X-rays as a diagnostic tool. The images help us detect:

X-rays also guide us during procedures, such as dental implants, denture fittings, bone grafts, and jaw treatments.

In children, X-rays help us monitor growth, predict alignment problems, and spot the emergence of wisdom teeth. 

Digital X-rays vs. traditional film X-rays

For many years, traditional film X-rays were the standard in dental offices, and they still are in many practices today. But digital X-rays offer clear advantages over their predecessor, including:

Between digital X-rays and CBCT scanners, we have your whole mouth covered. 

How often do you need dental X-rays?

The frequency of dental X-rays is entirely dependent on your oral health and needs. If you have some current dental conditions that need monitoring, or have had past issues that may affect your dental health, we may need to increase the frequency of your X-rays. Here’s a general guide of what you can expect.

New patients

The first time you come to see us, you can generally expect X-rays to be part of your exam. This establishes a baseline of your oral structure and health, and gives us something to compare future X-rays to. 

If your child’s teeth are touching and we can’t observe all the surfaces, we may need an X-ray, and we typically take an X-ray of any teen or adult who has evidence of tooth decay.

Routine check-ups 

When you come to see us on a regular basis, and we don’t see any signs of problems, such as tooth decay or gum disease, we only take X-rays every 1-3 years, depending on your age. Young children whose teeth are still developing may need X-rays once a year. Adolescents can space their X-rays apart by 18-36 months, and adults only need them every 2-3 years.

If you have tooth decay or gum disease

If you currently suffer from gum disease or tooth decay, we’re glad you’re coming in to get the care you need. As part of our treatment to restore your oral health, we need to increase the number of X-rays you get so we can keep an eye on the disease and the treatment. Children with these conditions may need X-rays every six months, adolescents every 6-12 months, and adults every 12-18 months. 

Are dental X-rays safe?

It’s normal to be concerned about the safety of X-rays — after all, it exposes your body to radiation, and radiation can damage your body’s tissues. But radiation is all around us, and we’re exposed every day without even knowing it. Radiation is present in the sun’s rays, the dirt in the playground and our gardens, and even on airplanes. 

A digital X-ray only contains approximately 0.005 mSv of radiation, compared to the average dose you get from natural and cosmic radiation (about 2.61 mSv per year). Over the course of a year, the average American is exposed to a dose of 6.2 mSv. About half of that comes from man-made sources, such as X-rays, and only 2.5% of that comes from dental X-rays. 

So, you’re right to question the safety of X-rays, but rest assured, we use the safest equipment and lowest dose of radiation available.

If you haven’t had a dental X-ray in a while, you may be due. To find out, schedule an appointment at Innovative Dental Ideas by booking online or calling our friendly staff at 614-529-0062 today. 

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