What If You Don't Want To Have Dental X-Rays?

You feel uncomfortable with the idea of getting dental X-rays on an annual basis since you're worried about the radiation. You never have trouble with your teeth and are wondering whether a dentist will agree to do your exams if you don't have X-rays done every year. As a new patient, you'll be encouraged to provide recent radiographic images from your previous clinic or to get dental X-rays at your first appointment. After that, the decision is between you and your dentist.

About Dental X-Ray Radiation

Although radiation from a dental X-ray is minimal, medical professionals want to limit a patient's exposure to radiation as much as possible. A dental X-ray is comparable to receiving as much radiation as you would receive in a day from natural sources in the environment, which is normally a low amount. Nevertheless, radiation exposure is cumulative over a lifetime, so every dental X-ray adds another day's worth of radiation. 

Reasons Many Dentists Insist on Annual X-Rays

Radiographic images show a dentist information that isn't visible during a visual exam. With X-rays, the dentist can see and evaluate:

  • areas between the teeth that are hidden from view
  • teeth roots 
  • initial signs of decay
  • tiny cracks in teeth
  • fillings and other previous dental work
  • the health of the gums
  • wisdom teeth that have not erupted
  • jawbone structure
  • signs of abscesses or cysts 

A dentist wants to resolve any problems as soon as possible so they don't get worse. 

A View From the American Dental Association 

The ADA does not state that every patient should have a dental X-ray at least once every year. The organization provides detailed guidelines, but generally leaves the decision up to the individual dentist. 

If you are a new patient and you haven't had dental radiography within the past few years, your dentist will strongly encourage you to have X-rays at your first appointment. If you've had X-rays within the last year or two, the dentist will want to see them. You may have some trouble finding a dentist who is comfortable not having a baseline radiographic image of your teeth and gums.

After this first appointment, the dentist may not suggest X-rays for the next two or three years, as long as you have excellent oral health. In fact, many dentists prefer not to perform more frequent X-rays on patients with healthy teeth and gums. 

What You Can Do Now

Be straightforward about your concerns when you call to schedule a professional teeth cleaning and dental exam. Ask whether you'll be required to have this diagnostic procedure done yearly after your initial appointment if you don't want it. If the answer is yes, look for a different dentist. It's important for you to find one who is a good match for you. Talk to an expert like Dental Associates PC for more information.