Dental X-rays and Your Overall Health

Posted on May 21, 2015 in General oral health

Most people who visit the dentist will have X-rays taken at some point. It's natural to be concerned about potential risks from too much exposure to radiation. However, it is important to understand that X-rays are an often necessary and important part of the dental health examination process.

“X-rays are an important tool for dentists to diagnose dental diseases. However, they do not need to be part of every exam,” said Dr. Katina Spadoni, dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois. “They should be ordered only after the dentist has examined the mouth and has determined that X-rays are needed to make a proper diagnosis.”

The purpose of X-rays is to allow dentists to see signs of disease or potential problems that are not visible to the naked eye. They are usually ordered after the dentist has done a clinical exam and considered any signs and symptoms, oral and medical history, diet, hygiene, fluoride use and other factors that might suggest a higher risk of hidden dental disease. So be sure that your dentist checks your teeth, health history and risk factors before deciding an X-ray is necessary.

The following chart gives a basic timeline for recommended frequency of X-rays by age group. Keep in mind that multiple factors such as current oral health, future risk for disease, and developmental stage determine need, and some individuals will require more X-rays, and some fewer.

Xray chart

See your dentist for regular checkups and expect that while X-rays may be necessary, routine practice guidelines and safety precautions make this important tool a safe and beneficial component of oral health care.  If you are concerned about your potential radiation exposure from dental X-rays, discuss any concerns you have with your dentist.