A Look on the Inside

Dentist performing teeth x-ray on pediatric patien

Dental X-Rays are a very important part of a dental exam. X-Rays allow the dentist to see areas of the mouth that can’t be visualized just by looking in the mouth. They allow the dentist to see in between the teeth where two teeth touch together, a very common place for cavities to form. Furthermore, the dentist can use X-Rays to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment.

We recommend that children get X-Rays of their back teeth (called bitewing X-Rays) as soon as the 1st and 2nd primary molars begin to touch each other. We recommend that they get X-Rays on their back teeth yearly. Some children with a high risk of cavities may even need X-Rays on their back teeth every six months. These X-Rays on the back teeth are primarily for detecting cavities between the back teeth.

Sometimes, if a child has a large cavity on a tooth or has pain on a tooth we will take an X-Ray that shows that tooth and the bone underneath it. This X-Ray is called a periapcial X-Ray and is good for determining if there is any infection present with a tooth. A periapical X-Ray is also very good for detecting any problems associated with the tooth root. This X-Rays are not taken on a yearly basis and are only taken to address specific problems.

Once children have the eruption of their permanent molars (usually around 6 years of age) we will take a Panorex, or panoramic x-ray. This is an X-Ray that goes the whole way around a child’s head to take a picture that shows all of the upper and lower jaws along with all of the erupted and unerupted teeth. This allows for the dentist to assess the child’s growth and development and check to make sure that there are not any problems associated with the jaw bones. This X-Ray is not particularly good for detecting cavities.

X-Rays are safe for children. Our office uses digital X-Rays that require less radiation than traditional X-Ray films. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the X-ray beam to the area of interest. Lead body aprons and shields help protect your child. Digital X-rays and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.

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