How often should I have dental x-rays taken?
We’ve all had to bite that weird little piece of plastic and have a strange machine take pictures of our face. Although a bit unpleasant, dental x-rays are incredibly valuable, allowing the dentist to identify:
- Root canal or bone changes caused by infection
- Decayed areas of teeth that indicate cavities
- Bone loss associated with gum disease
- Tooth decay beneath pre-existing fillings
- Developmental abnormalities
- Incoming wisdom teeth
They’re also used to ensure that a child has enough room for incoming adult teeth, and to help the dentist prepare for things like braces, implants, dentures, and other procedures. Being that they’re so useful – you may wonder how often you should have dental x-rays taken. The answer is entirely up to you.
Dental x-rays may need to be done as often as every six months, or as little as once every few years. There are a few factors that will determine how often you have them done. Each dentist will have their own policy, but to give you an idea of what to expect:
New adult patients to a dentist’s office will most likely have x-rays done to establish a baseline if they have a history of tooth decay. The dentist will need to see what work, if any, has been previously performed, as well as establishing current overall dental health. After that, x-rays will be taken every 6-12 months. If the adult has healthy teeth, with little to no history of tooth decay, x-rays will only be taken every 2-3 years.
When it comes to children without any permanent teeth, x-rays will need to be taken if all surfaces of their teeth cannot be probed or visualized. If decay is present, x-rays will be taken every 6 months until the decay is gone. If there’s no decay, x-rays are only needed every 1-2 years.
As their permanent teeth begin to erupt, a full series of x-rays will be taken to ensure that the teeth are coming in correctly, that the mouth has enough room for the adult teeth, and to keep an eye on the wisdom teeth. If there is decay, they will have 1-2 dental x-rays a year. If there’s no decay, then x-rays are only needed every 18-36 months.
In a nutshell, the healthier your teeth, the less necessary x-rays are, especially as an adult. Practice good oral hygiene, and you won’t need as many. Have more questions about dental x-rays? Contact Dr. Chauvin’s office.