Benefits of Dental X-Rays

There has been a debate over x-ray radiation and its cancerous effects. Well, these rays surely carry the risk of cancer but studies suggest that dental x-rays are far less dangerous as compared to conventional x-rays. The element of risk is still there but it should not keep you from getting examined properly for the dental issues which can turn out to be even more dangerous. Furthermore, the dentists are generally recommended to practice every precautionary measure to ensure minimum exposure to radiation.

ADA and Food and Drug Administration Guide to Patient Selection for Dental Radiographs says, “The dentist must weigh the benefits of taking dental radiographs against the risk of exposing a patient to X-rays, the effects of which accumulate from multiple sources over time. The dentist, knowing the patient's health history and vulnerability to oral disease, is in the best position to make this judgment in the interest of each patient”.

According to ADA, there are many diseases which cannot be detected without x-rays. Some of the diseases which can be detected and treated with the help of x-rays are:

  • Small decay areas which exist under the filling
  • Bone infections
  • Periodontal disease
  • Cyst or abscess
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Tumors

When mouth is exposed against x-rays, the rays pass through softer and less dense portions. Denser portions absorb the rays.

Now, you may wonder how often one should get dental x-rays. It mainly depends upon the specific needs of the patient. Dentists usually check history and check patient’s mouth in order to determine if there is the need of radiograph. You may be recommended to get the x-rays test done first if you are a new patient because the dentist will first like to determine if there are any issues with your oral cavity.

National Academies' National Research Council states that dental x-rays can result in the increased risks of cancer but this risk is quite smaller. Hence, it may be said that you should not be uncomfortable if your dentist asks you to undergo dental x-rays because this test saves you from bigger troubles.

The conclusion of discussion by the panel suggests that there is more research required in this scenario in order to find out how risky the dental x-rays are. They also say, “It is unlikely that there is a threshold below which cancers are not induced, but at low doses the number of radiation-induced cancers will be small”.