Sometimes when coming in for a regular check-up and screening, a dentist may want to get a dental x-ray to get a better look at a patient’s teeth to make sure the teeth and mouth are healthy. Dental x-rays happen much more frequently than other kinds of x-rays largely because they’re used for preventative medicine, as opposed to regular medicine where you’re likely to only receive an x-ray to confirm if a bone is broken. For the average healthy adult, the American Dental Association recommends a dental x-ray be performed every 2-3 years. Preventative x-rays are important to dental health because damage or problems such as cavities can be difficult to see with the naked eye until they have further developed, potentially leading to worse damage and limiting options to properly treat it. Children and adolescents tend to receive dental x-rays more often than adults as it helps dentists see how teeth are growing in and monitor for potential issues that may need intervention, such as impacted wisdom teeth that may require surgery. 

Some people are wary of x-rays and worried about the amount of radiation they give off. After all, if the dentist needs to step into another room when performing an x-ray, then how safe can they really be? While it is certainly good to be cautious around radiation, the fear of receiving x-rays is misguided. As x-ray technology has advanced and improved, the amount of radiation they give off has decreased significantly, and the lead-filled collar patients wear while the x-ray is performed protects the patient from any superfluous radiation the x-ray emits when it is taken. Dentists go to another room to perform the x-ray because while a single x-ray every few years is far from harmful, dentists must perform multiple x-rays daily, and constant, repeated exposure to x-ray radiation can be dangerous whereas the occasional dental x-ray every few years is not. X-rays are an important tool in dentistry, helping to catch potential problems early to keep your teeth healthy and strong throughout your life. 


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