Why Do Dentists Perform So Many X-Rays?

X-rays are an essential tool for dentists to identify and diagnose various oral health issues, such as cavities, impacted teeth, and tooth decay. Although they may seem complex, x-rays are a common practice in the dentist's office and are just as important as regular dental cleanings. Dr. Sarah Dirks, a dentist with a private practice in San Antonio, Texas, noted that it seemed that her patient's plan was “exaggerated” since asking for so many x-rays seemed to be routine for him.

The use of cone-beam dental CT scans for routine tests, such as diagnosing cavities, is “definitely not recommended” according to Dr. Children, whose cells divide rapidly, are more sensitive than adults to radiation damage. This is why healthcare organizations are taking steps to reduce the dose they receive on x-rays. The motto of the Image Gently campaign, which advocates for less use of radiation by children, is “More is not usually better.” Many patients want to limit dental x-rays due to cost, discomfort, or fear of radiation.

Mallya, associate professor of radiology at the University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry, found that “simply saying that the dose is minimal doesn't allay concerns.” Instead, it emphasizes the diagnostic benefits of dental x-rays which “make patients feel more comfortable.” That said, dentists should be able to justify the importance of any X-ray they perform and should not rely on a general X-ray policy for all patients in accordance with guidelines established by the American Dental Association. Other people who don't have recent dental or gum diseases and who have scheduled ongoing visits with their dentist may only need X-rays every two years. Advances in dentistry have made it possible to limit the amount of radiation patients receive during an X-ray procedure. This includes X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to a small area, high-speed x-rays, the use of lead-coated full-body aprons, and federal laws that require precision and safety controls on X-ray machines.

During this procedure, you will be placed in the dental chair and your dentist will place an X-ray tab in your mouth.

Madison Bew
Madison Bew

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