Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD
X-rays, also known as radiographs, are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping your dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in mouth before they become a major problem. An x-ray is a type of energy that passes through soft tissues and is absorbed by dense tissue. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb x-rays, while x-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks. These x-rays allow dentists to find cavities, look at the teeth roots, check the health of the bony area around the tooth, determine the gum health, see the status of developing teeth for children and to monitor good teeth health through prevention.
Dental x-rays are safe; however, they do require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. Dental x-ray tools and techniques are designed to limit the body’s exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that
radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle). A leaded apron minimizes exposure to the abdomen and may be used when it will not interfere with acquisition of the dental radiograph. Also, a leaded thyroid collar can protect the thyroid from radiation, and should also be used whenever possible.
If you are pregnant, make sure to tell your dentist. During your pregnancy, you may need to have
x-rays taken if dental emergency presents. Use of the leaded apron and thyroid collar will
protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental x-rays do not need to be delayed if
you are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.