It’s a common feature of a dental visit for the dentist to take a series of x-rays of your teeth and gums. This is so your dentist knows exactly what is wrong with your teeth, particularly if you are experiencing some sort of pain, as that’s the reason you arranged an appointment.
X-rays and their purpose
X-rays are used for anyone of any age. They can pick up damage to the teeth in areas that are not visible, such as a developing cavity or gum disease and they can show how a child’s teeth are started to emerge so that both the child and the parent can be reassured that everything is developing as normal.
A panoramic dental X-ray
A panoramic dental x-ray captures the whole mouth in a single image and requires a small amount of ionizing radiation to do so. It is common practice amongst dentists and oral surgeons and is used so that the right treatment can be undertaken for both implants and extractions. It is also used to provide a plan of the mouth for custom made dentures and braces which must fit well.
There are certain things you need to do if your dentist has suggested a panoramic x-rays such as:
- telling your dentist you are pregnant;
- removing jewellery and glasses that could interfere with the image produced by the x-ray;
- wearing the lead apron provided by your dentist which helps to protect the major part of your body from exposure to radiation.
Are dental x-rays dangerous?
Exposure to radiation is often a concern, but there has been no indication that dental x-rays or any other types of x-rays pose any danger at all to people’s health. In fact, dental x-rays are rated as posing the least threat as the radiation dose is so low. When compared to a CT scan it would take 1,200 mouth x-rays to be equal to a single CT scan.
Small amounts of radiation are present on a single air flight and an X-ray taken of your mouth is around 50 percent of the radiation found on a seven hour plane flight. The amount of radiation exposure in an x-ray examination which includes four intraoral images is equivalent to a 1-2 hour airplane ride. Another way of putting it is that a dental x-ray produces less radiation than the amount of natural radiation anyone is exposed to in a single day.
Safety always comes first in a dental surgery and the level of radiation is kept to the utmost minimum, as the dentists are experienced and know how to use x-ray equipment safely.
You can help your dentist
If you are a first time visitor to your dentist let the practice know about any previous x-rays you have had and if you have your medical records from your previous dentist these will be a great help. This will indicate to the dentist what sort of treatment you have had and if x-rays have been used before.