Family/Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry

Are X-Rays Needed?


  Early detection is key!  Our new
  high definition digital x-ray
  sensors provide even more
  detail than ever before allowing
  us to see even the tiniest
  fracture or decay


Are dental x-rays really necessary?

Yes. Many diseases, lesions and decay can only be detected with the use of dental x-rays.  It is impossible to see directly between the teeth or under the gums or bone without them.  Many times the patient will have no signs or symptoms. Without the use of dental radiographs, the dentist is limited to detect only the disease which is visible in the mouth. Dental x-rays can detect disease beneath the surface and much sooner than a clinical examination alone. This enables the dental practitioner to identify problems early so that pain and extensive, costly treatment may be avoided.

How often should I have dental x-rays?

Typically, we take check-up x-rays for adults and children once every 12-18 month period, and a full mouth series of x-rays every 3-5 years depending on the periodontal health of the individual after the age of 18.  We follow the guidelines published by the American Dental Association in prescribing the number, type, and frequency of dental radiographs. New patients will be required to undergo a full mouth series for their comprehensive examination unless a recent and clear copy is acquired by their previous dentist.

I just want a cleaning!  Can I refuse x-rays and be treated without them?

If due for x-rays, treatment of any kind without the 'necessary' radiographs and exam may be considered negligence and a disservice to the patient.  Again, it's a matter of early detection and finding problems when they're small.  If a patient refuses to have necessary dental x-rays taken, then the dentist may need to refuse to provide patient care.  This includes having a dental cleaning performed by the hygienist.

Can the dentist use my x-rays from my previous dentist?

Yes. If the x-rays are of good diagnostic quality and are recent enough, then the dentist may use them for the oral radiographic examination.  Some additional radiographs may still be necessary depending on the needs of the individual.

How are x-rays measured?

Just like there are ways of measuring distance in miles or kilometers and weight in pounds or kilograms, there are ways to measure x-ray exposure. The roentgen is a way of measuring radiation exposure. The amount of energy absorbed by tissue is termed the rad or radiation absorbed dose.

How much radiation will I receive from dental x-rays?

"You get more radiation exposure from going outside into the
sunlight than you would with digital dental x-rays."

Some patients have expressed concern about the safety of dental x-rays and the amount of radiation they emit.  It is important to know that the amount of radiation from dental x-rays is minimal especially compared to other common sources of radiation.  For example, the average yearly environmental exposure is 3000 microsieverts (mSv), a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis emits 15,000 mSv, while a dental x-ray emits only 5 mSv.

We do high definition "digital x-rays" that are more comfortable for the patient and are 85% less radiation over that of conventional film based x-rays.   Plus, this new x-ray system provides us with more detail than earlier digital editions giving Dr. Prouty an advantage over other dentists in early detection.

Why do you use a lead apron?

The lead in the lead apron with the lead thyroid collar prevents the radiation from reaching the radio sensitive organs.

Should dental x-rays be taken during pregnancy?

The accepted cumulative dose of ionizing radiation during pregnancy is 5 rad (.05 Sv). According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, you would need 50,000 dental x-ray examinations to reach the 5-rad cumulative dose to the fetus.  The decision to order films during pregnancy is a personal one.  Because of the relatively low dose, it is not expected that there will be any harm to the fetus.  However, many dentists elect to postpone the radiographic exposures to those needed to treat symptomatic teeth or active decay.

Why does the dental radiographer leave the room when x-rays are taken?

Dental x-rays should only be used when the benefit of disease detection far outweighs the risk of any dental x-ray exposure.  The dental radiographer will not benefit from the exposure to the x-rays so the best protective measure is to maintain adequate distance and shielding.

Who owns my dental radiographs?

The dental record, including all of the dental radiographs belong to the dentist, however, the patient is entitled to a copy of the dental radiographs.  A fee for processing may be incurred.