Routine X-rays are no longer performed and your child will get one only when there is a solid reason. Children may require dental X-rays for a couple of reasons. This is usually a concern for many parents especially with the numerous risks that are allegedly linked to radiation. Though the amount of radiation in dental X-rays is minimal, they should be done only when necessary. The exposure should be minimized because the radiation can accumulate in the body thus increasing the chances of developing life-threatening health conditions.
X-rays may not be necessary where tooth decay is visually evident. Also, the dentist can tap the tooth to check whether it is painful or sensitive. X-rays may be prescribed more for children who have already developed permanent teeth. This is because a children dentist will not be able to see between two teeth. The permanent teeth are usually bigger than the baby teeth.
According to a guide by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association, high-risk preschoolers, that is those who had cavities in their baby teeth should get an X-ray every 6 to 12 months. For those who never had a cavity, the X-rays should be done every 12 to 24 months since their risk is low.
In pediatric dentistry, the general rule is to have an explanation for using X-rays. Some of the valid reasons that can be used to justify this include bleeding, pain, decay or migrating teeth. If the dentist is unable to see between two teeth, then this may be a valid reason too. Cavities between two teeth should be resolved as soon as the problem arises. If left until the cavity is visible to the naked eye, then the problem may be too extensive and it maybe require extraction or tooth canal and filling. At times the X-rays maybe recommended to keep track of a problem or treatment especially if major dental restorations have been performed.
Cone beam CT scans may be used for extra teeth or impacted teeth. Cone beam CT scans provide 3-D X-ray images for teeth, their roots, jaws and skull. An impacted tooth is one that is stuck at the back of the jaw. It can develop problems such as painful infections. When one tooth is impacted its function as well as others that are affected. An impacted tooth can damage the teeth adjacent to it by reabsorbing or eating part of their roots. Also, a cyst can form around the crown of the impacted tooth pushing the other teeth out of position. Extra teeth can cause crowding, root damage, bite issues, abnormal face appearance, speech problems and difficulty in chewing.
Dental X-rays are necessary for children because they help in the diagnosis and treatment of dental issues. The number of x-rays he or she gets will depend on individual dental health needs. If the dentist recommends an X-ray for your child, make ensure that you get an explanation as to why it is necessary.