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Why Are Dental X-Rays Necessary?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, x-rays and examinations are suggested every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay, with most dentists requesting x-rays to be taken once per year on average. Radiographs are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed as they cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Purpose and Benefits

X-Rays are taken because there is only so much that can be diagnosed without the help of special dental tools, and x-rays allow us to take a closer look between and beneath the teeth. X-Rays help your dentist see how the teeth are growing in, their alignment, any dark spots between the teeth that could turn into cavities, any impacted teeth below the gums’ surface or any missing adult teeth.

X-Rays also play an important role in detecting potentially life threatening diseases. Recently in Seattle, Washington, a pediatric dentist was credited to saving a little girl’s life after she was losing an abnormal number of baby teeth at 4 years old. The dentist ordered a panoramic x-ray of the child’s mouth, where they were able to detect tumors that were later revealed to be cancerous. Since the cancer was detected early on by her pediatric dentist, the patient was able to receive treatment and is now cancer free! (Source:


The dental assistant that’s helping you with your cleaning will be the one to take the x-rays.

The dental assistant will cover your child’s neck, chest and lap with a lead body apron, as well as wearing one themselves.  We use a camera attached to a long-arm to help position the lens so we can get the best picture possible of the different sides of the mouth and face. We strive to make the ‘picture’ experience as easy, quick, and professional as possible, while still using kid-friendly language to make the experience a positive one!

Types of X-Rays

There are four different types of x-rays that we take of patients regularly in our office. These x-rays differ based on which teeth we’re focusing on taking an image of, which mouth quadrant, and the angle of the images.



A panoramic x-ray is a picture of the entire mouth. For this x-ray, our camera will rotate around the head. Dentists like to use this x-ray to see the growth and development of the teeth and jaw.



For this x-ray, a patient bites down on a special sheet of paper while the image is being taken. Dentists like to take these x-rays to see how the crowns of your teeth line up. This type of x-ray is helpful to see if there are any signs of cavities between your teeth too.


Intraoral-Periapical (PA):

This x-ray is used to take a  closer look at your bicuspids and molars, and allows us to see teeth from crown to root.



Occlusal x-rays focus on how your upper and lower teeth line up.These x-rays help to detect decay on the front teeth.

Many parents worry about the effects of radiation that come with dental x-rays, but our staff can assure you that all x-rays taken in our office are held to the safest measure we can provide. The amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray examination is so small that the risk is negligible. With the use of lead body apron and shields, the radiation your child will experience is extremely minimal. Walking outdoors in the sun, flying on a plane, or standing in front of a microwave emits stronger radiation than any dental x-ray. Advancements to radiograph technology restricts and filters the beam to the area of interest, and high-speed and proper shielding techniques assures that your child will have the smallest exposure of radiation possible.

Although they aren’t taken at every six month regular check-up, x-rays are just as important as any other preventative step taken for one’s oral health. Your dentist takes x-rays to get a clear picture of your dental health to keep your mouth happy and healthy! Brushing, flossing, regular dental check-ups, and x-rays are all important and vital ways to keep your oral health in check, as well as helping to prevent cavities and tooth decay. So long as you follow these steps, you should have great oral health for years to come!



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