Who might need frequent dental X-rays?

Rita Medwid

Children, teens, or adults who are cavity prone need frequent dental x-rays. As well as people with disabilities, either mental or physical, where they are not capable of good oral hygiene, or tend to snack often. People with gum disease or loose teeth may need more frequent x-rays.  Your dentist will only take what is necessary so as to avoid a painful situation if the decay is neglected. 

Dental x-rays are a useful tool when helping your dentist detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam. How often x-rays should be taken depends on your present oral health, your age, your risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. For example, children may require x-rays more often because their teeth and jaws are still developing and their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults. Your dentist will review your history, examine your mouth and then decide whether or not you need x-rays.

If you are a new patient, the dentist may recommend x-rays to determine the present status of your oral health and to help identify changes that may occur later. A new set of x-rays may be needed to help your dentist detect any new cavities, determine the status of your gum health or evaluate the growth and development of your teeth. If a previous dentist has any radiographs of you, your new dentist may ask you for copies of them. Ask both dentists to help you with forwarding your x-rays.

If you are pregnant, tell your dentist. During your pregnancy, you may need to have x-rays taken as part of your treatment plan for a dental disease that requires immediate attention. Use of the leaded apron and collar will protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental x-rays do not need to be delayed if you are trying to become pregnant or are breast feeding.
Most people need dental x-rays about every three years, but you might need them more frequently if:
  • You're a child or teenager who has already had a lot of cavities. You might need x-rays once a year or even every six months to check for decay.
  • You have a lot of fillings, crowns, bridges, and other dental restorations. You might need frequent x-rays to check for decay.
  • You have severe gum disease. You might need extra x-rays to check for bone loss in your jaw.
  • You have dry mouth (xerostomia). You might need extra x-rays to check for decay.
  • You smoke or use tobacco products. You might need extra x-rays to check for decay and gum disease.

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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.