What should I know before I have dental X-rays?

You should know that dental x-rays are a safe and invaluable tool in helping dentists detect and treat oral health problems at an early stage. Many oral diseases can’t be detected on the basis of a visual and physical examination alone. Dental x-rays provide information about a patient’s oral health such as early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections and some types of tumors.

How often x-rays should be taken depends on your oral health condition, age, risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease that you may be experiencing.

Dental x-ray exams require very low levels of radiation exposure, and are designed to limit the body's exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle).

The ADA encourages the use of shielding (such as leaded, protective aprons) and thyroid collars on all patients when taking x-rays. The ADA also recommends the use of equipment and film that reduce the amount of radiation to which patients are exposed. If you have questions about any dental treatment, including x-rays, talk to you dentist.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.