Does My Child Really Need Dental X-rays?
It might be shocking to realize that children often need dental X-rays more often than adults. Your child is constantly growing and changing, and they are often more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. The enamel on childrens’ teeth is generally thinner allowing decay to spread more rapidly than on adult teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that X-rays are preformed every six months to a year or more depending on their risk for tooth decay.
What Is the Purpose Of X-rays On Children?
Many parents are frustrated that their dentist reports that their child now has cavities, but at their previous check up they were cavity free. Cavities can form rapidly on children, however the absence of X-rays at a previous visit due to age or behavior may be the cause for the initial under diagnosis. Most parents are shocked to find that their child has cavities because they regularly brush twice a day and limit high consumption of sugars in their child’s diet.
Many parents admit that they have not yet begun flossing due to either lack of child cooperation or failure to realize the importance of flossing at such a young age. X-rays can detect cavities that form in the areas between your child’s teeth that may not be seen on visible inspection. Once cavities are visually seen on areas between the teeth, these areas may be quite large, and actually approach the nerve of the tooth requiring more extensive treatment.
Eruption patterns of teeth can also be diagnosed with X-rays. Many children have delayed or advanced eruption patterns, or may even have permanent teeth that are missing or developing in an incorrect location. Early detection of these occurrences may help determine if early intervention or orthodontic treatment may be necessary. Many of these problems are more difficult to treat after the growth process is complete.
Children are known to being highly active and unfortunately prone to injury. Most commonly the upper front teeth take the brunt of the abuse and can suffer from root fracture, tooth displacement, color change, and mobility. Your child’s dentist may elect to take regular X-rays of this area to determine if any damage has occurred to the baby teeth or the permanent teeth underneath.
Are X-rays Safe?
Radiation is all around us, from microwaves, to airplanes, and even from the sun. With the amount of radiation we are exposed to with daily activities, the radiation from dental films is very negligible. Different dental offices have different forms of X-ray technology and therefore different levels of radiation from their equipment.
Digital X-rays offer the lowest form of radiation to patients, in some cases up to 80% lower than the traditional films most adults had as children. All dental offices are required to have routine inspections of their X-rays equipment by their state. It is also required that a lead apron be placed on your child for additional protection.