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Adam M. Hogan, DDS • Virginia Beach
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Virginia Beach, VA 23455
Office: 757-464-3514

May 23, 2022

X-rays in General Dentistry

Female Dental Professional and radiologist, explaining X-Ray image to a male patient. Rear view, over shoulder. Selective focus to monitor, shallow DOF.

In dentistry, an x-ray machine is an electromagnetic radiation device that produces energy high enough to take radiographs of the interior of the teeth, gums, and jawbones. The radiation beams used in dental X-rays are low and help dentists observe dental problems, such as dental caries, bone erosion, tissue inflammation, or impacted teeth.

Dental x-rays help dentists monitor and assess to prevent the risk of complications as teeth grow from baby teeth to permanent teeth. Baby teeth may be damaged and require to be pulled out. Evaluating children's oral health through x-rays helps prevent the development of conditions like permanent teeth growing alongside or behind baby teeth. Usually, children require more dental X-ray examinations than older adults as their teeth are still growing.

Risks of Having X-rays

You might be aware that dental X-rays typically involve radiation beams. However, the exposure levels are so low that they're considered harmless for children and adults. Exposure levels are even lower for digital x-rays than those developed on film.

During the X-ray procedure, the dentist places a lead plate or bib over the rest of the body parts to help prevent any possible exposure of the radiation to other vital body parts like the chest, abdomen, or pelvic area. Additionally, a thyroid collar may be used if there is a risk of thyroid conditions or on children and women who have reached their childbearing age alongside the lead bibs.

The X-ray machine is usually positioned over and alongside the head to take images of your mouth. Pregnancy is, however, an exception to getting a dental X-ray. Pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant should avoid any form of X-ray as the radiation could be potentially harmful to the developing baby. It is essential to inform the dentist if you suspect you're pregnant to avoid unnecessary complications.

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