Are dental x-rays safe?

Are dental x-rays safe?

Dental x-rays are required sometimes because there is so much going on inside your mouth, which is not visible to the naked eye.

X-rays allow the dentist to see what is happening and provide a comprehensive assessment of your overall oral health.

However, there is a common misconception that dental x-rays are harmful due to the radiation output.

This is not true, as the level of radiation output is extremely low. The American Dental Association likens it to catching a two-hour flight. This means unless you’re worried about the radiation output from a short flight, you shouldn’t be worried about having a dental x-ray.

Are dental x-rays safe for children?

Dental x-rays may seem scary for children; however, they are considered safe, due to the amount of radiation being very low.

X-rays have important benefits for children, as dentists are able to check for cavities and even examine potential issues with their adult teeth before they even come through.

Why are dental x-rays required?

The dentist takes x-rays to perform in-depth examinations of your teeth and gums, as they can see more than the naked eye. The type of x-ray taken will depend on certain factors relating to your present and past oral health, age, risk of diseases and any symptoms you may have.

Usually, if you are a new patient, the dentist will perform an x-ray to understand your oral health.

Dental x-rays can detect the following:

  • Issues with existing fillings, root canals, bridges and crowns
  • Areas of decay between the teeth, which is not visible
  • Development of teeth (missing, malformed, extra etc)
  • Presence and severity of gum disease
  • Infections
  • Cysts
  • Some types of tumours
  • Traumatic injuries (bone fractures)
  • Tooth proximity to nerves and sinuses.
  • Development of wisdom teeth
  • Bone required for dental implants

Common types of dental x-rays:

There are a number of different dental x-rays that a dentist can perform, depending on the patient’s circumstances and requirements.

The following are the most common types:

Periapical x-ray:

This provides a view of the entire mouth, from the crown until beyond where the tooth attaches to the jaw. Commonly used to detect abnormalities of the root structure and bone structure.

Bite-Wing x-ray:

This offers a visual image of both the lower and upper posterior teeth (molar and premolar teeth), showing the dentist how the teeth touch or occlude and signs of decay and gum disease between teeth.

Panoramic x-ray:

Shows a view of all teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and the joints of the jaw. This x-ray is usually taken if the patient requires orthodontic treatment or for implant placement.


Used to track the development of teeth either in the lower or upper jaw. It shows how the teeth fit together to form your bite pattern.

In general, just like brushing and flossing, dental x-rays are an important part of maintaining good oral health, as they are used to detect any underlying issues. Plus, the images are generally available instantly with digital x-rays, meaning the dentist can go through them with you instantly, to check for any irregularities.

It is generally recommended to have them every one to two years, depending on your age, health and insurance.

At Access Dental Care, our team is passionate about making all patients feel welcome and providing excellent dental care. If you would like to ask any questions regarding dental x-rays or other issues or would like to book an appointment, please click here.

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