Are x-rays harmful? Do you really need dental x-rays? If so, are there limits on how often you should receive dental x-rays? Read on to discover the answers to frequently asked questions about dental x-rays.
What are the Risks Involved with X-Rays?
X-rays expose your body to radiation in order to form an image. The amount of radiation required to form a dental x-ray is normally very small. The various systems and processes at work on Earth result in what is known as “background radiation,” and the amount a person absorbs daily is about the same amount as an x-ray produces. The effects of radiation; however, ARE cumulative. The dangers and possibilities of harmful effects from radiation increase each time a person is exposed to x-rays or other forms of radiation. Children are particularly susceptible to long-term effects of radiation since they have so much time ahead of them, and also because their cells are growing and dividing very quickly. Radiation has been known to cause cancer as well as genetic mutation. The thyroid gland is particularly susceptible to radiation, and research has shown that some cases of thyroid cancer can be linked to repeated x-rays.
How Often Should My Family and I Need X-Rays?
According to guidelines set out by the American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration, children who are not at high risk for decay or other oral problems should receive dental x-rays every year or two. Teens with healthy teeth and gums can receive x-rays every 16 months to three years, and adults with no dental issues can receive them every two to three years.
X-rays should only be used after a thorough exam by your dentist in order to discover any problems that may be lurking out of sight. People who have tooth decay, gum disease, or other condition affecting the health of teeth and gums may need x-rays more often.
Dental X-Rays are Your Choice
When taking your children to dental appointments inform the dental staff that you would like to be notified before any x-rays are taken. It is okay to ask why your child needs a particular procedure and turn it down if you feel it is unnecessary. It is important to remember; however, that x-rays are an extremely useful diagnostic tool with huge advantages when it comes to identifying and treating oral health problems.