Q. My family and I visit our dentist regularly every six months. Once a year, he takes x-rays of our teeth. Is it really necessary to take x-rays every year?
A. Your dentist wants to make sure your dental health is optimal, I am sure. Once a year bitewing x-rays and once every three years panoramic x-rays are a commonly accepted practice. This is a good way to find decay, bone loss, tumors, etc., before they get too far along. There are times x-rays are needed more than once a year, such as when a patient has very active decay, and there are situations where I recommend them less than once a year when a person has no history of dental disease and no restorations.
Dental x-rays are relatively low cost when compared to most radiographic procedures. The radiation dose has been consistently lowered since x-rays have been used for medical purposes. A traditional radiograph has been compared to the radiation of watching TV for 30 minutes. Radiation exposure has been lowered exponentially over traditional radiographs with the advent of digital x-rays. Radiation exposure is lowered up to 1/100th of what conventional x-rays are. If you are concerned about this, seek a dental office with digital radiographs, and you can lower your family’s exposure greatly. I have used digital x-rays for years; they are great and the wave of the future in all areas of radiography.
Mark D. McOmie, D.M.D.
McOmie Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
5999 Shallowford Rd., Chattanooga, TN