There are many reasons to periodically have X-rays when you visit the dentist. Experienced York dentist Dr. Gordon Bell uses dental X-rays to gain a comprehensive view of the health of your teeth, bone and gums, and to discover small problems before they become significant issues. Even though the amount of radiation in a dental X-ray is low, Dr. Bell will only recommend full or partial X-rays when needed.
X-rays do more than help dentists find cavities that may not be obvious from a surface examination. By illuminating what is going on below the gum surface, your dentist can determine the integrity of the roots of your teeth, and whether they are securely anchored in your mouth. X-rays can reveal bone loss, which is a red flag for serious periodontal disease. Catching this early may save some or all of your teeth.
American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines give dentists a great deal of flexibility in making judgments about the frequency of X-rays. Nevertheless, the ADA does suggest that patients with recurring decay and other complicating issues have X-rays taken once or twice a year. The interval for a person with optimal dental health can safely be two to three years, according to the ADA. Comprehensive X-rays are also standard in preparation for many dental procedures, such as extractions and root planing.
A Safe, Prudent Approach
Each X-ray will expose a patient to some radiation, but the amount is small and becoming smaller with each new generation of X-ray equipment. It is estimated that the average dental X-ray contains roughly the same amount of radiation you will absorb from natural sources in one day. You will be exposed to more radiation on a typical airline flight.
Dr. Bell and his team ensure maximum protection from even this low amount by always covering patients with a shielded apron that X-rays cannot penetrate. He may also advise a delay in X-rays for pregnant or nursing women and will limit the frequency of X-rays for very young children.