A dental X-ray is one of the most important tools used by pediatric dentists! X-ray machines produce a detailed image of the gums, teeth and teeth roots, which our dentists use to assess the health of your child’s mouth and to identify problematic conditions, such as cavities and impacted teeth (teeth that aren’t able to erupt through the gum).
Most dental professionals advise that children receive dental check-ups with X-rays every six months to a year to ensure that their teeth are growing properly and their oral health is up to par. During these check-ups, we sometimes have parents wonder about the safety of X-rays. Many parents ask, “How many X-rays are safe in a year?”
The truth is… dental X-rays use such a low amount of radiation that they are considered safe for children! At Kids Smiles, our doctors use digital radiographs that use significantly less radiation than traditional radiographs to keep our young patients safe.
Risks of X-rays for Babies
Do you know when you should bring your child in for his or her first dental exam? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children see a pediatric dentist as soon as their first tooth comes in! But what does that mean for your child? Are there risks associated with X-rays?
Dental X-rays are used to see the teeth, bones and soft tissues where cavities and other conditions may reside. It is important to remember that age does not play a role in the “risks” associated with X-rays. Dental X-rays are considered safe because they use a considerably low amount of radiation.
When considering the safety of an X-ray, keep in mind that the risk is associated with the amount of radiation used during the exam. This is why we use low-radiation X-rays! While we use low-radiation dental X-rays for baby teeth , it is still important to keep exposure to a minimum. Be sure to notify your dentist of any recent X-rays your child may have had to minimize exposure.
How Many X-Rays Are Safe in a Year?
One thing to keep in mind about X-ray safety is that it's not the number of X-rays that put you at risk, but the intensity of each X-ray.
Dental X-rays are typically performed each year. Although, we may suggest a dental X-ray sooner than a year to better monitor the progress of your child’s dental condition.
The number and frequency of dental X-rays your child may need depends on a few factors, such as:
- Oral health
- Risk factors or symptoms of oral disease
- History of gum disease (gingivitis) or tooth decay
It is normal for us to request dental X-rays if your child is a new patient. This is so we can get a good understanding of your child's current dental health to understand his or her needs.
If this is your child's first dental visit, getting a dental X-ray of their baby teeth is especially important. This is so we can identify any existing oral health issues. If your child has been to the dentist before and has completed a dental X-ray within the last year, sometimes we will request a copy of the most recent X-Ray to reduce exposure.
Children need to have dental X-rays completed more often than adults, because it’s important for us to monitor the growth and development of their adult teeth.
While dental X-rays do involve radiation, the exposed levels are so low that they’re considered safe for children and adults. For this reason, there is no suggested limit of dental X-rays per year, however it is important to limit the amount of exposure if possible.
Pediatric Dental X-Ray Guidelines
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced new guidelines for pediatric X-rays.
It is recommended that X-rays always use the lowest dose of radiation necessary, while taking into consideration the age and size of the patient. Dental X-rays should also only be performed when the dentist believes that they are necessary to answer a question about the health of your child's mouth.
Still have Questions about Dental X-Rays?
Our team is more than happy to answer any questions you may have about dental X-rays! If your child hasn’t received their first dental X-ray yet, or you believe that they may need a condition assessed, please reach out to our office or give us a call!
If you are concerned about the cost of dental X-rays, we are more than happy to offer a complimentary insurance benefits check and go over payment options. Your peace of mind is our priority!