X-rays are used in pediatric dentistry for a number of reasons. Radiography, also known as the ‘conventional X-ray,’ is the particular type of medical imaging process used in pediatric dentistry, which means a single image is recorded for subsequent evaluation.
Dental X-rays and Safety
When abiding by the correct precautionary measures, pediatric dental radiography is considered very low risk for causing any negative health effects, and there are multiple reasons why the benefits of dental X-rays supersede any risks. Read more about tips and safety in pediatric dentistry on our pedaitric dental topics page.
Why Are Dental X-rays Important?
Pediatric dentists routinely use dental radiography for diagnostic as well as preventive reasons. X-rays are necessary to find certain dental decay or diseases that cannot be seen upon visual examination. Dental x-rays also help the pediatric dentist ascertain the amount of space in the mouth available for permanent teeth which have not yet erupted, as well as determine if the primary teeth are being lost expeditiously enough for the permanent teeth to correctly erupt. Additionally, dental x-rays allow the dentist to see if all adult teeth are present below the gum line, if extra teeth exist, or if there are any missing before they start coming in. Furthermore, dental radiography helps the dentist approximate the timing of un-erupted wisdom teeth or see if wisdom teeth are either impacted or unable to come in due to issues like bone structure inhibition or other teeth. Finally, dental x-rays aid pediatric dentists in being able to specify anticipated orthodontic care that may be necessary for a child.
How Often Do Kids Need Dental X-rays?
Dental x-rays are not taken every check up. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), every child’s individual case and circumstances determine how often he or she needs dental x-rays (radiography). The pediatric dentist will prescribe dental x-rays on an as needed basis for each child. For safety reasons, however, digital radiography is used minimally, to obtain a large amount of diagnostic and preventive information during the growth and development years.
Children at a higher than normal risk for dental decay may need x-rays more often, as suggested by the pediatric dentist, to keep track of variations in the condition and health of their teeth. For children considered low to normal risk for tooth decay, the dentist may recommend a set of dental x-rays to be taken every one to two years. Even if no dental decay is presumed, x-rays are significantly beneficial for keeping tabs on tooth and jaw growth. If a child experiences some sort of injury or trauma to the mouth, the pediatric dentist may need to x-ray the mouth as soon as possible to learn the extent of the damage and formulate the best plan of action for treatment and restorative dental work, if necessary.
How Safe Is Dental Radiography for Kids?
Although exorbitant radiation exposure from one of the multitude of feasible sources in our surrounding present world can, in fact, lead to cellular or tissue damage in the body and possible negatively impact overall health, dental radiographs are considered very safe and low risk for children. Digital x-raying, the newest and safest form of radiography, is the only method by which our practice records images of a child’s mouth. Digital radiography generates only the very minimal amount of radiation necessary to record an image. This amount of radiation is significantly lower than what is produced with the standard more antiquated machines. Also, the heightened sensitivity of x-ray film, has reduced the amount of radiation required to record an accurate and precise image of the teeth and jaw structures, consequently decreasing the amount of overall radiation exposure as well.
Additionally, the pediatric dentist will employ several safeguarding measures to guarantee your child undergoes no inordinate damage to bodily tissues or cells due to the x-ray process. A lead vest/apron will be placed over the child to keep the body from undergoing any extraneous exposure. Technological advancements allow the dentist to single out only certain sections of the mouth to be x-rayed individually, while the rest of the mouth and head is protected from exposure. The dentist will use special shields to cover the parts of the face that do not need x-raying. Again, the use of high-speed digital film also decreases radiation exposure to as little as possible, while still recording an accurate image.
If you have any questions or concerns about digital radiography and/or x-ray safety for your child, be sure to ask the pediatric dentist to explain the x-ray processes, procedures, precautionary measures, and machinery use.