Digital Dental X-rays and Your Child

Why We Take Dental X-rays

There are several reasons why dental X-rays are important:

  • Children’s mouths grow and change rapidly. X-rays are used to check the growth and development of your child’s teeth, both erupted and un-erupted.
  • Children are more susceptible than adults to tooth decay. X-rays allow dentists to check for decay in between teeth, which cannot be seen from a visual exam.
  • X-rays help dentists see abnormalities in areas of the mouth not visible otherwise, including bone, root and tissue health.
  • X-rays help dentists determine the best course of treatment when trauma occurs.

X-ray Frequency

In order to determine how many X-rays should be taken of your child, we use several different tools.

  • We complete a caries risk assessment for each child, a system created by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists. This risk assessment determines if your child is a low, medium, or high risk for dental decay.
  • In addition to this caries risk assessment, we follow the “Guidelines for Prescribing Dental Radiographs” chart (below) created by the American Dental Association.

The doctor will review your child’s caries risk level, the prescription chart, and your child’s overall dental history and make a determination of the best X-ray frequency for your child. If your child is a low risk for dental decay, we may extend his/her x-rays to every 18 or 24 months.

Radiation Exposure

According to the American Dental Association, radiation exposure associated with dentistry represents a minor contribution to the total exposure from all sources (about 0.2 percent). The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements has estimated that the mean effective radiation dose equivalent from all sources in the United States is 3.6 millisieverts (mSv) per year, with about 3 mSv of this dose from natural sources and about 0.6 mSv from manmade sources. The majority of manmade radiation exposure is medical-related. It is estimated that dental X-rays contribute approximately one percent of the total dose of exposure in health care settings

X-ray Safety

We take X-ray safety very seriously with every child. We use all digital X-rays, lead body aprons, and thyroid collars. All three of our offices are certified by the State of Colorado for radiation safety. All of our dental assistants take a radiation safety course.

Refusal of Dental X-rays

Dental X-rays are very important as the primary means for diagnosis of various dental and medical conditions. If you determine that you do not want dental X-rays for child on a long-term basis, we may not be able to treat your child further in our office.