Many diseases, lesions and decay can only be detected with the use of dental x-rays. It is impossible to see directly between the teeth or under the gums or bone without them. Many times the patient will have no signs or symptoms. Without the use of dental radiographs, the dentist is limited to detect only the disease which is visible in the mouth.
Dental x-rays can detect disease beneath the surface and much sooner than a clinical examination alone. This enables us to identify problems early so that pain and extensive, costly treatment may be avoided.
Typically, we take check-up x-rays for adults and children once every 12-18 month period, and a full mouth series of x-rays every 3-5 years depending on the periodontal health of the individual after the age of 18. We follow the guidelines published by the American Dental Association in prescribing the number, type, and frequency of dental radiographs.
New patients will be required to undergo a full mouth series for their comprehensive examination unless a recent and clear copy is acquired by their previous dentist.
If due for x-rays, treatment of any kind without the 'necessary' radiographs and exam may be considered negligence and a disservice to the patient. Again, it's a matter of early detection and finding problems when they're small. If a patient refuses to have necessary dental x-rays taken, then the dentist may need to refuse to provide patient care. This includes having a dental cleaning performed by the hygienist.
Yes. If the x-rays are of good diagnostic quality and are recent enough (within the last 12-18 months), then we may use them for the oral radiographic examination. Some additional radiographs may still be necessary depending on the needs of the individual.
The accepted cumulative dose of ionizing radiation during pregnancy is 5 rad (.05 Sv). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, you would need 50,000 dental x-ray examinations to reach the 5-rad cumulative dose to the fetus. The decision to order films during pregnancy is a personal one. Because of the relatively low dose, it is not expected that there will be any harm to the fetus. However, many dentists elect to postpone the radiographic exposures to those needed to treat symptomatic teeth or active decay.
Consulting with your Obstetrician will be advised should an x-ray be needed to perform treatment.
The dental record, including all of the dental radiographs belong to the dentist, however, the patient is entitled to a copy of the dental radiographs. A fee for processing may be incurred.
Just like there are ways of measuring distance in miles or kilometers and weight in pounds or kilograms, there are ways to measure x-ray exposure. The sievert is a derived unit of ionizing radiation dose in the International System of Units and is a measure of the health effect of low levels of ionizing radiation on the human body.
The lead in the lead apron with the lead thyroid collar prevents the radiation from reaching the radio sensitive organs.
Dental x-rays should only be used when the benefit of disease detection far outweighs the risk of any dental x-ray exposure. The dental radiographer will not benefit from the exposure to the x-rays so the best protective measure is to maintain adequate distance and shielding.
You get more radiation exposure from going outside into the sunlight than you would with digital dental x-rays. See more about this below.
High definition digital x-ray sensors have far less radiation levels over that of film, and these special sensors provide even more detail than ever before... allowing us to see even the tiniest fracture or decay.
Check out the yellow square on the image showing the tiny fracture in this tooth that would otherwise go undetected!
Some patients have expressed concern about the safety of dental x-rays and the amount of radiation they emit. It is important to know that the amount of radiation from dental x-rays is minimal; especially compared to other common sources of radiation. For example, the average yearly environmental exposure by just walking out into the sunlight is 3000 microsieverts (mSv), and a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis emits 15,000 mSv, while a dental x-ray emits only 5 mSv.
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