Dental radiographs are a very important part of a dental exam. X-rays allow Dr. Commarato to see areas of the mouth that can’t be visualized just by looking in the mouth. They allow Dr. C to see in between the teeth where two teeth touch together, a very common place for cavities to form. Furthermore, a dentist can use X-rays to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment.
We recommend that children get X-rays of their back teeth (Bitewing X-rays) as soon as the 1st and 2nd primary molars begin to touch each other. We recommend that they get X-rays on their back teeth yearly. Some children with a high risk of cavities may even need X-rays on their back teeth every six months. These X-rays on the back teeth are primarily for detecting cavities between the back teeth.
Sometimes, if a child has a large cavity on a tooth or has pain on a tooth we will take an X-ray that shows that tooth and the bone underneath it. This X-ray is called a periapcial X-ray and is good for determining if there is any infection present with a tooth. A periapical X-ray is also very good for detecting any problems associated with the tooth root. This type of X-ray is not taken on a yearly basis and is only taken to address specific problems.
Once children have the eruption of their permanent molars and several permanent incisors (usually between the ages of 6-8 years of age) we will take a Panorex, or panoramic X-ray. This is an X-ray that goes the whole way around a child’s head to take a picture that shows all of the upper and lower jaws along with all of the erupted and unerupted teeth. This allows for Dr. C to assess the child’s growth and development and check to make sure that there are not any problems associated with the jaw bones. This X-ray is not particularly good for detecting cavities.
X-rays are safe for children. Our office uses digital X-rays that require less radiation than traditional X-ray films. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the X-ray beam to the area of interest. Lead body aprons and shields help protect your child. Digital X-rays and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.