Dental x-rays are a very useful diagnostic tool. They show dentists areas that are invisible to the naked eye, including tooth roots and the contact areas between teeth. X-rays allow dentists to make a quicker and more accurate diagnosis and detect potential problems more easily.
While x-rays do emit some radiation, modern digital dental x-rays are far safer. For example, a set of four digital dental x-rays exposes you to about 0.4 mrem, whereas people consume approximately 5 mrem from drinking water each year. If you smoke, this exposes you to approximately 1300 mrem every year. Additionally, we take extensive precautions to protect you whenever you need a dental x-ray, including covering you with a lead apron and providing thyroid protection.
When you first visit our dental practice, we will need to take a complete set of x-rays to provide us with a good overview of your dental health. From then on, we only take x-rays when necessary, so a healthy adult may only need x-rays every couple of years or if you have a specific dental problem that needs closer examination. Children need more frequent dental x-rays because their teeth and jaws are growing rapidly, but we still only take x-rays when necessary, and the benefits far outweigh these minimal risks.