People hear the word “radiation,” and suddenly panic. After all, everyone knows radiation is bad for you. While that is technically true, x-rays are standard medical tools and are often necessary for diagnosing or mapping delicate areas. You shouldn’t be afraid of a dental x-ray. Yes, pregnant women should avoid all forms of radiation, but anyone else should listen to their doctors and dentists. To make you more comfortable with the idea of an x-ray, it is beneficial to learn a little more about this useful and necessary medical device.
Sometimes, it helps to understand why a dentist might ask for an x-ray. No doctor asks for this imaging test without reason. New dental patients are often asked to get x-rays done to give the dentist a better idea of your dental health. There is a lot that a dentist can understand by peeking in your mouth, but that is only surface information. To understand the exact topography of your mouth, a dentist must see what’s happening beneath the surface, which is the purpose of an x-ray.
The procedure for an x-ray is very basic. You will enter a room, sit on a chair or table, and the dental assistant will place a lead vest over your chest and lap. The machine will be positioned alongside your head, and the dentist will take the image. There are several different types of x-rays, which require different positions. However, if you are a new patient, and the x-ray is more general, then your dentist may request an occlusal or panoramic x-ray to get a full image of your teeth and jawline.
Radiation is the alarmist term that throws people into a panic over dental x-rays. While you shouldn’t subject yourself to unnecessary levels of radiation, x-rays are entirely safe. The levels of radiation you are exposed to are minimal, and as most dentists use digital x-rays, the radiation levels are even lower. The only reason to ever avoid an x-ray is if you are pregnant. Other than that, these tests are safe and your dentist will use safety precautions, like lead vests, to ensure that you are not at risk for any unnecessary exposure.
Keep in mind that a dentist will never put you at unnecessary risk. X-rays are necessary imaging tools that help doctors map out treatments and understand conditions. If you have not had a dental x-ray, or if you have avoided the dentist because they want you to have imaging done, then contact a local office and schedule an appointment. A good dentist, like a family dentist in Morrisville, NC, will be happy to answer any questions you have before getting an x-ray done.
Thanks to Alliance Dentistry for their insight into dental x-rays.