ASK DR. GERI
I’m worried that my child will get too much radiation. Are dental x-rays safe and really necessary for children?
Dental x-rays are necessary to diagnose cavities between teeth that are not detectable with visual examination. They are used to evaluate the severity of decay, and assess the health of the roots and supporting structures of the teeth. In children, x-rays may also be used to evaluate the development and position of the permanent teeth, and to rule out any potential oral disease.
Fortunately, dental x-rays are much lower in radiation in comparison to most medical x-rays. As you can see from the chart below, a single dental x-ray is the equivalent of eating two bananas, and the newer digital radiographs emit even lower radiation. In fact, our office uses a new technology that is so low in radiation that the technician taking the radiographs actually stays in the room with the patient.
The frequency of x-rays recommended may vary depending on the patients’ age and dental history. Children who have a history of tooth decay may require more frequent radiographs than those with no history.
Currently, dental disease in children is more common than asthma and hay fever, so the earlier that you diagnose and treat decay, the better. If left untreated, dental decay can lead to pain and infection.
Dental x-rays are very important for proper diagnosis and treatment. The risks associated with undiagnosed and untreated dental disease far outweigh those associated with dental x-rays.