Why Take X-RAys?
Parents often ask us if it is necessary to take radiographs during dental check-ups. We like to explain to parents that in order for our doctors to perform a thorough and comprehensive exam, taking radiographs is one of our diagnostic tools. Radiographs allow us to see areas of the teeth, jaw, and face that we can not visualize with our own eyes and the benefits of taking radiographs far outweigh the risks.
Radiation is used to take radiographs however, with new technology and digital systems, the radiation is very minimal. Our patients are covered with lead aprons to shield their body and a lead collar to protect their thyroid. For pediatric patients, we typically take 4-6 radiographs which is approximately 1microSieverts. According to the figure, that is 1/10 of the daily dose of natural background radiation.
What Do We See?
Radiographs show us areas of the teeth that we can not see visually. This allows us to determine if there are caries in between teeth, if teeth are missing or if there are extra teeth, how close are the adult teeth to erupting, inflammation/infection, and pathologies such as cancer and bone diseases. This information allows us to properly diagnose cases and treat our patients as a whole.
Radiograph showing primary dentition, developing permanent incisors, and an extra incisor (mesioden/supernumerary).
Radiograph showing caries in between molars. This is a very high risk area and caries are commonly seen here. Note that these caries are not visible during oral exam and only detected with radiographs when small.