Is It Safe for My Kid to Have Dental X-Rays?


What Parents Need to Know About the Safety of Dental X-Rays

Yes, dental X-rays are a safe screening tool for your little one. Understandably, most parents are still a little skeptical. It’s your job to keep your little one healthy and safe. That’s why in today’s post, we would like to break down dental X-rays, what they are, and how pediatric dentists use them so the next time your dentist recommends a dental X-ray for your child, you’ll know enough to make an informed decision. Let’s dive in!

What are dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays are a diagnostic tool dentists use to identify issues in your child’s mouth before they become a problem. On an X-ray, dentists not only see the underlying dentin layer, they also see the nerve tissues in the pulp chamber and can get a microscopic view of the enamel. Backed by a comprehensive oral exam, X-rays allow your kid’s dentist to:

  • Spot problems in the roots of teeth and the jawbone
  • See if all the incoming teeth will fit in their mouth
  • Check the growth and development of their teeth
  • Identify early signs of decay, chips, or cracks

By diagnosing these oral issues early, your child can receive proper treatment before the problem escalates, saving your child (and your pocket) from the discomfort of more extensive dental procedures while also protecting their overall health.

What types of X-rays for kids do we have?

Dental X-rays come in many shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at what the different X-rays do and what your dentist tries to see with each one.

  • Periapical X-ray

Your child’s dentist may use periapical X-rays to see the whole tooth, including the root and surrounding tissue, which is useful when diagnosing an abscess, impacted tooth, or bone loss from periodontal disease.

  • Bitewing X-ray

This type of X-ray allows the dentist to see any decay that’s happening between the teeth, which may not be apparent during an oral exam. It can also help determine the proper fit for a crown and other dental restorations, like bridges.

  • Occlusal X-ray

This X-ray shows the entire upper or lower arch of teeth. Pediatric dentists use it to track the growth and development of your child’s teeth as well as identify any extra teeth.

  • Panoramic X-ray

Like the name suggests, panoramic X-rays give a broad view of the entire structure of your child’s mouth. It’s an ideal screening tool for examining wisdom teeth and identifying abnormal growths or cysts in the jawbone.

  • Cone Beam Computerized Tomography

This tool provides a 360-degree view of your kid’s teeth, gums, nerve pathways, and jawbone in a single scan. Pediatric dentists mostly use this to check the spacing and development of teeth.

  • Cephalometric

Lastly, this method provides a side view of your child’s head so your dentist can see the teeth, jaw, and surrounding structures from a different angle. This type of X-ray is an invaluable tool in the treatment planning of orthodontic issues, like crooked and misaligned teeth.

Why are X-rays safe?

Let’s face it: X-rays are never any parent’s first choice. You’ve watched the news, you’ve heard stories, and many of them suggest that radiation exposure is bad for adults, let alone kids. So why are X-rays vital screening tools in pediatric dentistry?

For one, according to the FDA, the amount of radiation exposure in modern digital X-rays is very low. Some studies even suggest that dental X-rays expose children to radiation almost at the same level as that of the sun. That’s largely because pediatric dentists follow the ALARA principle, an acronym that stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable,” when obtaining radiographs and keep up with the FDA guidelines in order to stay on the safe side. This makes the possibility of your child experiencing any harmful effects extremely low. Some might even say non-existent. That said, Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry also provides leaded aprons and thyroid collars to offer extra protection to the abdomen and thyroid.

How often does my kid dental X-rays?

Every child is different. The only way to really know how often they’ll need dental X-rays is after a dentist near you does an extensive evaluation of your child’s teeth and gums. Dr. Mo and Dr. G will also go over your child’s medical and dental history, only opting for X-rays when there’s absolutely no other suitable diagnostic tool. In general, children need more X-rays when they’re at a high risk of developing oral health problems, like cavities. But the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry limits the number of X-rays done on kids annually to two.

Where can I get safe dental X-rays for my child?

Your child can receive safe dental X-rays at our Must Love Kids dental office in Vancouver, Washington, of course. Dental X-rays for your little one may sound scary right now, but there’s little cause for worry. They are a safe, reliable screening tool that helps Dr. Mo and Dr. G keep your little one’s smile healthy and happy. Must Love Kids pediatric dentists put the safety of your child first and will only recommend X-rays after an extensive oral examination. Talk to us on Facebook if you have any other questions on the safety of dental X-rays or fill out this online form to request an appointment.