We find that giving children their first dental X-ray between the ages of two and three helps to familiarize them with the process. The first X-rays are often simple pictures of the front teeth.
After the teeth begin to meet in the back, your child should receive X-rays every one to three years to check for dental issues hidden beneath the surface.
How Digital X-Rays Work
X-rays are a variety of electromagnetic radiation that can pass through soft tissue. Bones and teeth reflect this radiation, creating a visible image on the X-ray.
Traditional X-rays capture these images on film, but today, digital X-rays use a fine-tuned sensor to receive the image and transmit it to a computer.
Digital X-rays are superior to film X-rays due to higher image quality. The dentist can see problems earlier and in more detail. They can easily share the images with patients and their parents. The dentist does not need to develop the images using harsh chemicals.
Finally, digital X-rays use only a fraction of the radiation required for film images, making them safer in the long run.
Why Children Need Dental X-Rays
X-rays are important for dental care at all ages, but children do not need them at every visit. Your dentist will decide when your child needs X-rays. Typically, in school-age children, X-rays are taken annually.
Even if you believe your child has healthy teeth, there may be more happening beneath the surface than you realize. X-rays are a useful tool when diagnosing the following issues:
- Developmental abnormalities
- Possibility of future orthodontic problems
- Bone disease
- Impacts of oral injury
Digital X-Ray Safety
While digital X-rays use significantly less radiation than traditional film X-rays, dentists take great caution around radiation safety. Radiation's impact on the body adds up slowly over time, with the total lifetime exposure determining the patient's risk of developing cancer.
Some of the precautions that dentists take before giving pediatric X-rays include:
- The use of lead aprons or vests to protect the child from incidental exposure
- Shields covering the parts of the face that do not need scanning
- Reserving X-rays for necessary occasions only
Dental X-Rays and Your Child
X-rays are a normal part of a child's recommended dental care routine. Even if your child's teeth appear healthy, an X-ray can determine whether there may be hidden problems.
The benefits of digital dental X-rays generally outweigh their risks, and new equipment makes them safer than ever.
Call Attleboro Pediatric Dentistry
If your child needs dental care in the Attleboro area, please call our office at 508-409-6160 to schedule an appointment. We can explain our X-ray protocols and help you understand the safety precautions we put in place at each visit.