Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam.  Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan.  Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.

Dental x-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses or cysts.
  • Bone loss.
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
  • Decay between the teeth.
  • Developmental abnormalities.
  • Poor tooth and root positions.
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
  • Faulty restorations.

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort and your teeth!

Are dental x-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment.  The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays (13 or more films) is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.

Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe.  Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays.  These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each x-ray. All of our x-ray units are being regularly tested and certified according to the Radiation Protection Services Division of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.

How often should dental x-rays be taken?

The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs.  Your dentist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration and risk for disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for most new patients.  A full series is usually good for three to five years.  Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended to detect new dental problems, such as decay and failing restorations and to reassess periodontal conditions.

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