Providing our young patients with outstanding dental care is our #1 goal, so every member of the Terrific Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team is committed to utilizing state-of-the-art technologies in our everyday practice.
We use digital x-rays, for example, as digital radiography is a valuable tool that allows us to uncover and address dental problems in their earliest, most treatable stages.
If you are like many parents, though, you might wonder if a digital dental x-ray is safe for your child. We hope you’ll take a moment to learn about digital x-rays for pediatric patients.
While we always do our best to spot signs of dental problems when we perform a visual dental exam, digital dental x-rays can help reveal hidden dental problems. For example, digital dental x-rays can help detect tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities. The advanced technology can also help us spot signs of early gum disease, tumors or cysts, and more.
Digital dental x-rays help us diagnose dental problems in their earliest stages, when they are easiest to treat. Early diagnosis also helps prevent the need for extensive – and potentially more expensive – treatments when your little one is older.
We use digital dental x-rays to evaluate the formation of developing teeth, diagnose bone injuries or diseases, discover missing or extra teeth, and identify or monitor any changes in your child’s teeth. We also use the technology to track the healing and progress of any dental procedures your boy or girl has had in the past, and can help us create a plan for any orthodontic treatments your child may need in the future.
Great question! Dental x-ray machines work by passing ionizing radiation through a part of the body to create images of the patient’s teeth or jaw bones. The hard surfaces of the teeth and bones reflect the radiation. Traditional x-rays use film to capture the reflected radiation and create the image. Digital dental x-rays use a sensor that connects to a computer via a thin wire.
In the very early days of x-rays, exposure to radiation was a serious concern, as radiation can cause a wide variety of illnesses. Throughout the decades, though, advances in dental x-ray technology allowed dentists to create x-ray images with greater detail while using less radiation. Today’s dental x-rays are much safer than ever before, especially with the introduction of digital dental x-rays. In fact, the x-rays pose much less of a risk to your child than letting dental problems go undetected and untreated.
At Terrific Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we use low radiation x-ray equipment with 80 to 90 percent lower radiation exposure than with the already-minimal levels of radiation of traditional dental x-rays. You may be surprised to know that digital dental x-rays cause less radiation exposure than many daily activities. Spending the day at the Grand Canyon would expose your child to more radiation than would a single tooth x-ray, for example, and a flight from New York City to Los Angeles would expose them to more radiation than would an x-ray of their whole mouth!
While digital x-rays are incredibly safe and digital x-ray radiation exposure is very low, our team at Terrific Smiles Pediatric Dentistry adheres to all recommended safety protocols and take extra steps to keep your child safe. We use lead body aprons and shields, for example, to limit your child’s exposure even more.
Reduced radiation exposure isn’t the only benefit of digital dental x-rays. Instead of taking images one at a time and waiting for them to develop, digital dental x-rays take multiple digital images simultaneously and display them instantly – this means your child will spend less time in the dentist chair. Digital dental x-rays do not require the messy and environmentally unfriendly chemicals dentists once used to develop traditional dental x-rays.
Traditional dental x-rays were small, about the size of a wallet-size photo, and the small size often made them harder to read. The larger images created by the digital x-rays are more accurate and of higher quality, which makes it easier to spot problems.
While traditional dental x-rays were small, they took up space in the patient’s file. Referring a child to a specialist often meant making copies that would be carried or mailed to the new dentist. Digital dental x-rays are stored on computers and can be easily shared with other specialists as needed.
Most of our young patients need to have a dental x-ray once a year, but we determine the frequency of digital dental x-rays based on each child’s unique needs. Your child may require more frequent monitoring if they are at high risk of tooth decay or other dental problems, for example. While today’s technology is very safe, we recommend x-rays only when needed.
You can minimize your child’s need for dental x-rays by encouraging them to brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice per day and flossing daily. Scheduling your child’s dental visits as recommended can also help us diagnose any dental condition they may have early on, when it is easiest to treat. Taking these steps will translate to fewer dental x-rays in the future, and a healthy smile for a lifetime!