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Do We Really Need X-Rays Every Year?

Dental x-rays are important to your oral health

Dental x-rays have become more of a routine for comprehensive exams. With any exposure to radiation, you may be asking “do we really need them performed so often?” Dentists and experts agree that the benefits outweigh any negatives when it comes to dental x-rays.

This common practice enables dentists to see deterioration before it becomes a major issue and cost to your wallet.

Most of us will be asked for x-rays once a year, but there is some variability to how often some patients will need these. It depends on oral health, age, a potential issue that the dentist is watching, history of gingivitis, or oral disease symptoms.

Over the years, there has been some debate on the safety of x-rays when it comes our exposure to radiation. But rest assured that the risks are not that concerning. Since technology has continued to evolve, the exposure to radiation has been decreased significantly – especially with the development of digital x-rays. Precautions are always taken with children, pregnant women, those with certain underlying conditions. You may recall the lead aprons used during x-rays to protect your vitals.

Each type of x-ray has a purpose

Bitewings – The most common type of x-ray for taking pictures of molars, canines, premolars. It helps with early detection of cavities, and dentists get a clear picture of your oral health.

Occlusal – This x-ray captures a view of how the top and bottom teeth line up and any other abnormalities that may be present.

Extraoral – These are used when your dentist suspects you have oral issues that lie beneath the teeth and gums, but typically in the jawbone.

Periapical – The focus with this type of x-ray is on two teeth from root to crown to provide a full view for your dentist to exam.

Panoramic – This gives an all-around view of the teeth and their root placement, which is important for orthodontics when corrective surgery is needed, or cosmetic surgery is desired.

Digital – Digital x-rays are the newest and most efficient way to collect, store, print, and review a picture of your oral health over time. It’s also beneficial to note that this method exposes the patient to less radiation than any other type of x-ray.

As you can see, it is incredibly important that patients receive dental X-rays as needed to assess for various oral health concerns. It is recommended for most to at least have x-rays completed annually when your dentist advises.