X-rays are an important part of your child’s exam. They are taken to gain information that a visual examination of the teeth and soft tissues cannot provide.
Dr. Mann prescribes x-rays after carefully reviewing each patient’s unique history and risk for disease. They are only taken when indicated, but in general, children need x-rays more often than adults. Children’s mouths grow and change rapidly, and are more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. X-rays may be recommended one time per year, unless your child has a higher risk of tooth decay or a specific area that we are monitoring.
My child has never had a cavity, why take x-rays?
Dr. Mann may use x-rays to evaluate for cavities between the teeth, show unerupted, extra, or missing teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, survey the growth and development of erupting teeth, or to plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays can help to detect dental problems early, allowing for less extensive and expensive dental care.
Early detection of incipient enamel lesions (tiny in-between the teeth cavities) that would be invisible without x-rays, allows Dr. Mann to create an individualized home care plan that can stop or even reverse those small cavities when caught early. X-rays help Dr. Mann to be conservative in her care.
How safe are dental X-rays?
Extremely safe! Our office uses digital x-rays, which means the amount of exposure is very small. To help put it into perspective, according to the American Nuclear Society, the average dose per person from all radiation sources is about 620 mrems per year. Some typical sources of radiation from daily living are:
- 16 mrem/year = living in a state that borders the Gulf or Atlantic coasts
- 10 mrem/year = cooking with natural gas
- 7 mrem/year = living in a brick house instead of a wood one
- 5 mrem = flying in an airplane cross country flight
- 0.1 mrem = digital x-ray
Obviously, you would probably not move from New Jersey, refuse to fly on an airplane, stop living in a brick house and never cook with gas, because of the small amount of radiation you receive from those activities.
A digital dental x-ray exposure is 0.1 mrem. It is a 90% exposure reduction compared to the “old fashioned” dental x-rays. Dr. Mann’s practice only uses digital x-rays to minimize your child’s exposure to radiation. Lead body aprons and thyroid shields are used to further protect your child from exposure.
“Radiation Dose Chart.” American Nuclear Society. Updated 2012.