Are Dental X-rays Safe? Debunking Myths and Understanding Their Importance in Checkups

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What are dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays (radiographs) are internal images of your teeth and jaws. Dentists use X-rays to examine structures they can’t see during a routine checkup, like your jawbone, nerves, sinuses and teeth roots.

How do dental X-rays work?

Like X-rays taken in other parts of your body, dental X-rays use electromagnetic radiation to capture images of your mouth. The radiation beam passes through your soft tissues and creates images of your teeth and bones.

Dental X-rays may be traditional (taken with film) or digital (taken with digital sensors and a computer).

What can dental X-rays detect?

Dental X-rays help your dentist diagnose a wide range of oral health issues.

Dental X-rays show:

  • Cavities, especially small areas of decay between teeth.
  • Decay beneath existing fillings.
  • Bone loss in your jaw.
  • Areas of infection.
  • The position of unerupted or impacted teeth.
  • Abscessed teeth (infection at the root of your tooth or between your gums and your tooth).
  • Cysts and some types of tumors.

Dentists also use X-rays to help determine your eligibility for treatments like dental implants, braces or dentures. X-rays help your dentist check healing after certain procedures, too, such as dental bone grafts and root canal therapy.

Myth 1: Dental X-rays are always harmful.

  • Fact: Dental X-rays use low levels of radiation, and the exposure is minimal. Modern X-ray equipment and techniques further minimize radiation exposure. The benefits of early detection and prevention of dental issues often outweigh the very low risk associated with X-ray exposure.

Myth 2: Dental X-rays are unnecessary.

  • Fact: Dental X-rays provide valuable information that is not visible during a regular oral examination. They can help dentists detect cavities between teeth, evaluate bone health, diagnose infections, assess the development of teeth (especially in children), and plan treatments such as braces or dental implants.

Myth 3: Dental X-rays are only for those with dental problems.

  • Fact: X-rays are used for preventive purposes as well. They can help identify dental issues in their early stages, allowing for less invasive and less expensive treatments. Regular X-rays are an essential part of maintaining oral health.

Myth 4: Dental X-rays are harmful during pregnancy.

  • Dentists use lead aprons and thyroid shields to protect both the mother and the developing fetus. If an X-ray is necessary during pregnancy, it is typically done with minimal exposure..

Myth 6: Dental X-rays are painful.

  • Fact: Dental X-rays are generally painless. The procedure involves placing a small sensor or film in your mouth to capture images. Discomfort is minimal and brief.

Myth 7: Dental X-rays cause cancer.

  • The potential benefits of early detection and treatment of dental problems typically far outweigh this minimal risk.While inordinate exposure to radiation can inevitably cause cancer, as previously stated, a short flight exposes you to the same level of radiation as a dental x-ray.

Because low-dose digital x-rays are used everywhere, you are exposed to far less radiation than with older maxillary and mandibular versions, reducing your danger even further.

Myth 10- Dental x-rays should be done every year.

Reality- X-rays were routinely taken at all annual dental check-ups a long time back. It was considered normal back then.

Nowadays x-rays are performed only when there are clear benefits and when the images are crucial for developing a diagnosis.

If your oral health is good and you don’t have any symptoms of gum disease or dental decay, you can likely go more than a year without having x-rays.

Orthodontists must perform them at the start of treatment and occasionally during treatment to ensure that things are going according to the plan, but they are not a routine procedure.

In conclusion, dental X-rays are an essential tool for maintaining good oral health. Dentists use them judiciously and follow strict safety protocols to minimize radiation exposure


Are dental x-rays really necessary and why?

There are many different types of dental X-rays, including intraoral (taken inside your mouth) and extraoral (taken outside your mouth). Dental X-rays are essential to proper oral health and maintenance

Is there an alternative to dental x-rays?

Carivu is a radiation-free imaging device that detects cavities and cracks without radiation by using transillumination technology. By hugging the tooth, near-infrared light shines through the tooth allowing us to see through the tooth exposing its structure and any cavities or cracks with very high accuracy.

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