One of the most common questions we as dental professionals get is: “Are dental X-rays really necessary?” Well, the short answer is “Yes” (at least until your dentist gets bitten by a radioactive spider and develops X-ray vision). The simple truth is that X-rays are a vital tool your dentist needs in order to be able to provide you with the best possible care. So, in order to clear up any misconceptions or trepidation here are some basic dental X-ray facts:

What are Dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays involve passing electromagnetic radiation through the jaw to produce images of the structures inside.

Why we take X-rays?

  • To look for decay between teeth

– most often not visible to the naked eye.

  • Check for bone loss

-an X-ray will show the degree of bone loss

  • Check for decay under fillings

-X-rays are the only way to see this type of decay

  • Look for infection at tip of the root

-if you have an infection near the bone, an X-ray will confirm this

  • Examine the area before procedures

-gives the dentist a full view of teeth and bone

Are Dental X-rays safe?

Dental X-rays are one of the lowest radiation dose studies performed. A routine exam which includes 4 bitewing X-rays is about 0.005 mSv, which is less than the amount of radiation exposure from a short airplane flight.

It would take approximately 10,000 dental X-rays to reach your max yearly dose of radiation.

If you still have any questions about X-rays please feel free to ask any of our staff at your next appointment we would be happy to help put your mind at ease. The most important thing we at Dr. Lee’s office would like you to remember about X-rays is this:  to see is to know…not to see is to guess…and we won’t guess about your health!


-contributed by Leah Mittlesteadt


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