Should x-rays be used in every dental visit?

By Funke Oyelade,

Whether you go to the dentist every six months or once a year, we have all gotten our teeth x-rayed. For a while studies have shown that the radiations from x-rays are not helpful to patients, but doctors insisted that x-rays were necessary and not as harmful as other radiation people are exposed to.

In 2011, CNN published a story about whether or not x-rays were dangerous or necessary. One woman in the article stated that she does not allow her child to be x-rayed at the dentist. Another person said they had a sibling, who was a radiologist, and the sibling told them that radiation is radiation and if you don’t have to be exposed to it than don’t do it. Yet, many doctors held fast to their belief: x-rays are necessary in accessing serious dental problems.

However, the belief that x-rays are a necessity in dental work is being challenged. According to the LA Times while x-rays are important and emit a small amount of radiation it does not need to be used constantly. One dentist and professor, Stuart White, believes x-rays should not be used in routine dental checkups.

“The notion of bite-wing X-rays every year and a full set of X-rays every three years for every patient should go in the garbage can," he said.

The amount of exposure one can get from an x-ray depends on what kind of x-ray is being used. The round collimation exposes patients to more radiation; even though it helps the dentist to see more tissue.

While there are other options out there that will not give off as much radiation, many doctors are not using these options. Why? “They're used to one system and they don't want to change it," said Dr. Elham Radan, director of radiology clinic at University of Southern California (USC) dentistry school.

photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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