“Look Ma, Digital X-rays!”

X-rays are the standard of care because they help to find cavities early before they hurt or become very large.  Many cavities between the teeth may not be visible in the mouth.  X-rays also help to show early signs of bone disease to prevent permanent tooth loss.  In addition, X-rays are a lifesaving tool used to screen for oral cancer, which kills 8,000 people annually.  The ultimate benefit for our patients is to stay pain-free, to save money, and to keep healthy teeth for a lifetime.

Most adult cavities occur between the teeth; however, these cavities cannot initially be felt or seen.  By the time your adult teeth hurt or become sensitive, it is often too late.  Early detection of cavities between your teeth allow us to repair the small damage (caused by the bacteria) before you have any pain. Earlier diagnosis leads to lower cost, and more effective treatment.

Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss, yet it rarely ever hurts the patient until it is too late to save the teeth.  Early detection of infected gums and bone is critical to keeping your teeth for life.  X-rays allow us to examine your bone to find pockets of bone loss so we can act early before too much damage has occurred.

How often should I have X-rays taken?

Every 5 years adult patients need a full-mouth set of x-rays (FMX) taken.  This will provide for a thorough diagnosis of any cavities, infections of the gum & bone and a radiographic oral cancer screening.  Children’s need for x-rays vary by age and teeth present.  One set of checkup dental X-rays per year allows for earlier diagnosis of disease for all ages.

So what are these new digital X-rays all about?

Digital x-rays reduce the exposure amount to less than ½ of the traditional film X-rays.

How much radiation am I exposed to having traditional film X-rays taken?

The Health Physics Society as well as the American Dental Association report that a full series (18 xrays) of dental x-rays exposes a patient to 1 -1.5 mrems. Yearly check-up X-rays (4 bitewings) expose a patient to .2 -.3 mrems.

What the heck is a mrem?

A millirem, or mrem, is a unit of radiation equal to one thousandth of a rem.

So how does that compare to other forms of exposure?

In fact, the average American receives 360 mrem per year just from naturally occurring radiation from the sun, the earth, and the foods we eat.

  • Cooking with natural gas exposes a person to 10 mrems/yr
  • Sleeping next to someone 2 mrems/yr
  • Smoke detectors 1 mrem/yr
  • Brick houses 10 mrem/yr
  • One cross country flight 4-5 mrem
  • Reading a book 3 hours a day 1 mrem/yr
  • Chest X- ray 10 mrem
  • Smoking 1.5 packs a day 1300 mrem

Our office will continue to provide you with world-class dentistry through personal attention in a caring and friendly environment. X-rays are vital to helping us maintain your teeth for life.  In the process, we want you to stay pain-free, save money and save your teeth.