Dental X-rays play a crucial role in general dentistry. Primarily, these are diagnostic tools utilised by dentists to diagnose oral and dental diseases, monitor and assess the development and health of teeth and complement many dental procedures like a root canal.
As well as helping in the diagnosis of dental and oral issues, dental x-rays play an important role in preventive dentistry. Dental x-rays are necessary and crucial tools for dentists to ensure that the teeth and the supporting structures are healthy and disease-free.
However, people are often concerned about the safety of dental radiographs and the radiation from them being harmful to their health.
Let’s understand dental x-rays in detail as well as the safety concerns associated with them.
What do We Understand by Dental X-rays?
Dental X-rays, just like any other x-ray, are radiographs. But since dental x-rays pertain only to our oral cavity, the arrangement slightly differs from that of regular x-rays taken on any other part of the body. Primarily, there are two types of dental x-rays: Intraoral and Extraoral.
Intraoral X-rays, as the name suggests, involve taking radiographs of the inside of our mouth. These are the types that dentists use the most. They are quite instrumental for dentists to diagnose oral issues that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. These x-rays become useful in assessing the health of the entire oral cavity.
In extraoral x-rays, on the other hand, the radiographs are taken from the outside of the mouth. They don’t give as intricate a picture of our mouth as an intraoral x-ray but are useful in finding issues with jaws and the surrounding bone structure.
All in all, dental x-rays are critical in finding any disease processes that are occurring inside the oral cavity and are not visible by sight alone. For instance issues such as decay between the teeth, tumours, and gum diseases can be effectively identified through dental x-rays and thus can be treated early on before they have a chance to worsen.
Dental X-rays as a Preventive Measure
Ideally, one must visit a dentist at least twice a year to assess one’s oral health. This ensures that no disease is developing inside your mouth and if at all, a disease process is occurring, it can be treated in due time. During any such visit, your dentist might ask you to get a dental x-ray taken to understand the status of your overall oral health. Based on the results, they might suggest any preventive measure if required. This way dental x-rays can be a very effective tool for preventive dentistry.
How often Should One have Dental X-rays?
The frequency of dental x-rays that one might need depends on one’s overall oral health. If you are making regular visits to your dentists and haven’t had any recent oral issues, you may need to get a dental x-ray only once in 18-24 months. On the other hand, if you are under treatment for diseases such as tooth decay or gingivitis, your dentist may suggest you take an x-ray once every 6 months to monitor the recovery process.
How Safe are Dental X-rays?
Dental x-rays are often deemed “unsafe” by some people owing to excessive exposure to radiation. However, it is important to understand that the level of exposure is considerably low and is considered safe for children and adults alike. In fact, dental x-rays expose you to only 2.5% of the radiation when compared to other types of medical x-rays.
Radiation is measured in millisievert (mSv) and an x-ray series of full-mouth exposes you to 0.0150 mSv approximately. To put things into perspective, as per international standards, the maximum permissible dose of radiation for an individual is 50 mSv per year.
We can say that dental x-rays are perfectly safe for you as you will be exposed to small amounts of radiation to be harmful. However, since radiation is not safe for a developing child inside a mother’s womb, pregnant women are advised to avoid dental x-rays or any form of radiography for that matter.
When precautionary measures are taken, dental x-rays are hardly harmful to anyone albeit a very few exceptions. Moreover, digital x-rays have come up as an even safer alternative with about 80% lesser radiation exposure as compared to traditional x-rays. Also, dentists are adequately trained to take your dental x-rays with as minimum exposure to radiation as possible.
In summary, for dentists, dental x-rays as a diagnostic tool are virtually indispensable. Without these x-rays, it becomes difficult for them to make an accurate diagnosis. As a result, oral diseases in a person can worsen, leading to considerable pain and discomfort and eventually, greater loss of teeth.
Now, if your dental examination is due and you are looking for a more reliable dental practice in London, look no further. We at Complete Smiles have a tally of satisfied patients whose smiles are now brighter than ever before. We are a team of highly skilled and experienced dental professionals who use only the most advanced technology to provide you with the best possible dental services. Our range of services includes general dentistry, Invisalign treatment, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, and more.
To book an appointment, call us on 020 4541 1150. You can also book the appointment online.