When your child visits the dentist, x-rays may be recommended as part of their comprehensive care. Parents usually express some concerns regarding x-rays. The following information will answer five of the most common questions that parents usually ask:
1. How often should a child have dental x-ray films?
Since every child is unique, the need for dental x-ray films varies from child to child. Films are taken only after reviewing your child’s medical and dental histories and performing a clinical examination, and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual examination cannot.
In general, children need x-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are more susceptible than adults to tooth decay. For children with a high risk of tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends x-ray examinations every six months to detect cavities developing between teeth. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require x-rays less frequently.
2. Why should x-ray films be taken if my child has never had a cavity?
X-ray films detect more than cavities. For example, x-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate results of an injury or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.
3. Will x-ray films be taken routinely?
No. X-ray films are recommended only when necessary to evaluate and monitor your child’s oral health. The frequency of x-ray films is determined by your child’s individual needs. If your child’s previous dentist obtained x-ray films, request copies to be sent to your new pediatric dentist to help reduce radiation exposure.
4. How safe are dental x-rays?
Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray examination is extremely small. In fact, dental x-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems.
5. What safeguards are used to protect my child from x-ray exposure?
Lead body aprons and shields help protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film, digital x-rays, and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
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