Dental x-rays are an important diagnostic tool. They can help to identify the source and extent of tooth decay and other oral health conditions. While these tools do use radiation to create the images your dentist needs, the levels are incredibly low.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
The safety of dental x-rays is well-established by decades of peer-reviewed research. Even so, your dentist will take every precaution to limit your exposure to radiation by only taking x-rays when necessary and providing you with a lead cover while the images are being taken.
What Are Dental X-Rays Used For?
Dental x-rays allow your dentist in San Bernardino to get an unobstructed view of your teeth, jaw, and other bony structures. From these images, your dentist will be able to see if there are any potential health issues that affect those structures.
Most commonly, dental x-rays are used to look for cavities. If your dentist sees signs of decay during their visual examination, an x-ray will help them to ascertain how far that decay has progressed. In more serious cases, x-rays can help to detect an infection that has moved beyond the teeth.
How Do Dental X-Rays Work?
An x-ray is a type of radiation that is capable of passing through the body. When you have an x-ray taken, the radiation is sent through one side of the body to a piece of special film on the other side of the targeted area.
The energy from the radiation doesn’t pass through in a uniform manner. It has difficulty passing through denser areas of the body, such as bone. As a result, when the radiation passes through to the film, these denser areas appear white on the film.
In the case of dental x-rays, areas of decay are soft enough for the radiation to pass through with relative ease. As a result, decay and other areas will show up as a shadow in the otherwise white bone.
What Safety Precautions Are Taken To Reduce Risk?
You will generally have dental x-rays in San Bernardino once or twice a year as part of your preventative care. There are times when oral health conditions aren’t easily visible to your dentist, and dental x-rays can help catch these conditions before they become more serious.
You will only have more frequent x-rays if your doctor or dentist suspects that there is a potential issue. The infrequency of your exposure to a very small level of radiation makes it almost impossible for that radiation to cause any harm.
Even so, your dentist will give you a lead body apron to cover your chest and abdomen during your x-rays. This is an act of excessive caution used to reduce your risk even further by limiting the extent of the exposure to the targeted area.
When Should Dental X-Rays Be Avoided?
X-rays are practically never concerning. The one exception is during pregnancy. Some evidence suggests that a developing fetus may be more vulnerable to radiation. However, this has little bearing on dental x-rays.
The lead apron will cover your abdomen and the developing fetus, but you should let your dentist know that you are pregnant. They will generally put two lead aprons layered on top of you as an extra precaution to help you feel more secure.
In other situations where you may need x-rays, you can discuss the risks vs the benefits with your doctor. Generally speaking, if your doctor feels that an x-ray is necessary, then it is usually in the fetus’ best interest because it is in your best interest. Of course, there are exceptions where other, safer technologies may be used.