Dental radiographs–known to patients as “x-rays” are an important part of a dental examination. Usually a complete set of radiographs is taken for every new patients, and then again every 3-5 years. A limited number of “check up x-rays” are taken once yearly during a routine hygiene appointment to look for any changes. These images allow the dentist to properly examine the teeth, peridontium (gums and bone surrounding teeth), and jaws. The dentist is looking for cavities between the teeth, checking the integrity of existing fillings, and evaluating the health of the gums.
Patients choose to decline dental radiographs for a number of reasons. It is important to understand that radiographs are prescribed only when necessary. Digital radiographs–such as those we take in our office–have a much lower level of radiation compared to older analog radiographs. In fact, the typical dental radiograph exposes the patient to a lower level of radiation than most typical environmental exposures! It is important to understand that a declining to have radiographs taken may lead to a misdiagnosis (or missed diagnosis!), and the benefits of radiographs far outweigh the very small risk from radiation! Please allow us to answer any additional questions you may have about dental radiographs!