Dental X-Rays are an essential part of preventive dental treatment for children and adults. They are a valuable diagnostic tool that allows dentists to see things in the mouth not visible to the naked eye.
What’s going on inside and between teeth is just as important as what's on the surface. X-rays allow dentists to find and prevent potential problems before they arise.
X-Rays allow the dentist to:
- Keep track of the number, size, position, and eruption pattern of your child’s teeth
- Examine mouth injuries from all angles
- Determine whether there are any teeth missing
- Determine whether there are any extra teeth
- Find hidden damage or decay
- Prepare for braces or other orthodontic treatment
- Identify diseases of the bones
When and how often should my child have a dental x-ray?
There no standard timeframe for the first dental x-ray. It mostly depends on the progress of your child’s development and the state of her dental health. For a child who is at a greater risk for cavities, for instance, the dentist may want to take x-rays more frequently. For other children, x-rays can be done just once a year.
Your child’s oral hygiene routine and diet are also factors in how often dental x-rays will be necessary.
Types of Dental X-Rays
Panoramic x-rays show all of the teeth on one film, and also display both the upper and lower jaws, the sinuses above the teeth, and the tempromandibular joints. That's a lot of useful information in one go! Panoramic x-rays are often used to view facial injuries, orthodontic problems, or to view the mouths of children who are physically or mentally disabled. Panoramic x-rays are also useful for children who have strong gag reflexes or small mouths, as they do not require a film to be placed inside the mouth.
These are used to view the area between the teeth, and show where cavities are developing. These x-rays only become necessary once children have two teeth that are touching, which often happens only after a child's first permanent molars have erupted.
Dentists use periapical x-rays to view the entire crowns and roots of 1 - 3 teeth that are all next to one another. It also shows the bone structure surrounding the teeth, and allow the dentist to see how a child’s permanent teeth are growing in under the baby teeth.
Occlusal X-Rays allow us to view the majority of the upper and lower teeth on a single film, and can be used as an alternative to to panoramic x-rays.
These x-rays show the head from a side view, and are used to evaluate the growth of the jaws in relation to the bones of the skull. Orthodontic x-rays help orthodontists diagnose malocclusion problems and create treatment plans.
Are dental x-rays safe?
Yes! Dental x-rays are extremely safe. They expose your child to only a tiny amount of radiation. When all the standard safety precautions are taken, x-ray equipment can prevent unnecessary radiation, and allows the dentist to focus the x-ray’s beam on a very specific point in the mouth. High speed film also helps to reduce the amount of radiation exposure patients receive. During the x-ray, a lead apron is worn by the patient to further reduce radiation exposure.