Dentists generally recommend that you and your children get dental x-rays every other appointment (or once a year). A common misconception is that X-rays are just for children, or just about looking at your teeth. In fact dental X-rays have many uses for your dentist and can save you a lot of money and a lot of pain down the road.
Just like getting an X-ray for your leg, arm, or other area of your body, dental X-rays show dentists what’s happening under your gums. X-rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We interact with the electromagnetic spectrum every day. As waves become more compact the type of “ray” changes. A small section of the spectrum is referred to as visible light. This includes every color from red to violet. Infrared rays are just outside of the longest waves we can perceive. They are commonly used in television remotes and garage door sensors. UV rays or ultra-violet exists just outside of the most compact rays we can see. Past ultra-violet is X-rays and then gamma rays. X-rays have the unique property of allowing us to take images through skin tissue. This means doctors can see our organs, bones, and other internal structures easily.
You may have heard that radiation beyond the visible spectrum is dangerous. In fact, UV light (the radiation frequency that comes before X-rays) is often associated with melanoma and skin cancer. Radiation can be dangerous, but that is why dentists and doctors use very low levels of x-rays. Additionally lead padding is placed around the areas that are not being looked at for additional safety. Dental X-rays actually use even less radiation than X-rays used to look at arms and legs. The medical community is aware of the potential risk which is why every safety measure is taken to ensure you or your child is safe when they receive x-rays.
A common misconception among patients is that X-rays are just for looking at your teeth. Another misconception is they are just for kids who are still developing. In fact, x-rays show a lot more than just that. For adults x-rays can show us the following:
With dental X-rays your dentist can discover if there are any potential issues and address them early. The entire point of your general dental cleaning is to check for issues that could cause problems with your teeth and gums. X-rays one of many tools our dentsits use to protect us from the dangers of tooth decay and gum disease. With everything medical you always want to be on the preventive side of medicine instead of the reactive side. Preventing problems is usually less costly, less painful, and results in less damage to your teeth.
Of course, there are reasons behind the myth that dental x-rays are just for kids. Although everyone should be getting dental x-rays, kids get many benefits from these x-rays. X-rays show when cavities are developing, how wisdom teeth are doing, if any teeth are impacted, and how the adult teeth are coming in. Kids can get many benefits from dental x-rays which is why you should make sure your child is getting them at least yearly.