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Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)

Dental radiographs, also known as dental X-rays, are important diagnostic tools in pediatric dentistry.  Dental radiographs allow the dentist to see and treat problems like childhood cavities, tooth decay, orthodontic misalignment, bone injuries, and bone diseases before they worsen.  These issues would be difficult (in some cases impossible) to see with the naked eye during a clinical examination.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) approves the use of dental radiographs for diagnostic purposes in children and teenagers.  Although radiographs only emit tiny amounts of radiation and are safe to use on an occasional basis, the AAPD guidelines aim to protect young people from unnecessary X-ray exposure.

What are dental X-rays used for?

Dental x-rays are extremely versatile diagnostic tools.  Some of their main uses in pediatric dentistry include:

  • Assessing the amount of space available for incoming teeth.
  • Checking whether primary teeth are being shed in good time for adult teeth to emerge.
  • Evaluating the progression of bone disease.
  • Monitoring and diagnosing tooth decay.
  • Planning treatment (especially orthodontic treatment).
  • Revealing bone injuries, abscesses, and tumors.
  • Revealing impacted wisdom teeth.

When will my child need dental X-rays?

Individual circumstances dictate how often a child needs to have dental radiographs taken.  Children at higher-than-average risk of childhood tooth decay (as determined by the pediatric dentist) may need biannual radiographs to monitor changes in the condition of the teeth.  Likewise, children who are at high risk for orthodontic problems, for example, malocclusion, may also need sets of radiographs taken more frequently for monitoring purposes.

Children at average or below average risk for tooth decay and orthodontic problems should have a set of dental X-rays taken every one to two years.  Even in cases where the pediatric dentist suspects no decay at all, it is still important to periodically monitor tooth and jaw growth – primarily to ensure there is sufficient space available for incoming permanent teeth.

If the oral region has been subject to trauma or injury, the pediatric dentist may want to X-ray the mouth immediately.  Developments in X-ray technology mean that specific areas of the mouth can be targeted and X-rayed separately, reducing the amount of unnecessary X-ray exposure.

What precautions will be taken to ensure my child’s safety?

Though dental radiographs are perfectly safe for use on children, the pediatric dentist will take several precautions to ensure the X-ray process does not unduly damage the child’s cells and bodily tissues.

First, the child will be covered in a lead apron to protect the body from unnecessary exposure.  Second, the dentist will use shields to protect the parts of the face that are not being X-rayed.  Finally, the pediatric dentist will use high-speed film to reduce radiation exposure as much as possible.

If you have questions or concerns about dental radiographs or X-rays, please contact your pediatric dentist.

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Testimonials

I am 42 years old. All of my life I was self conscious about my smile
because of the dark tetracycline stain on my teeth. When I was 37 I
decided to do something about it. I had braces for four years to prepare
me for orthognathic surgery. My maxillofacial surgeon moved my jaw
forward so my overbite would be corrected. After that healed, the braces
came off and I went to see Dr. Stewart. She said I was a perfect
candidate for porcelain veneers. After talking with her and seeing her
portfolio, she installed them.

Almost over night I went from not smiling at all to grinning like a
fool. I can tell you the exact moment I knew I had made the right
decision to do what I had done. About a month after Dr. Stewart had
finished with me, a complete stranger said, "You have a nice smile." It
was the first time in my life I had ever heard those words...ever. My
limited vocabulary prevents me from describing what those words meant to
me but my whole world was changed.

I am 42 years old and I have a nice smile. Would I do it all again?
Absolutely! Do I have any regrets? Absolutely not!

Thanks Dr. Stewart!


Stephen...with a PH!

"Whenever people complain about their dentist or say they haven't been for a checkup in years, I tell them about Dr. Nancy Stewart and her great team. They're all friendly and professional, and the work they do is top-notch. For the past nine years, they have done both 'yearly maintenance' and cosmetic procedures on my teeth, and I get regular compliments on my smile! Leave your excuses at home and go see Dr. Nancy."

Kate Y. February 2007

"Dr. Stewart may be the only dentist I have never been afraid to go to.
Everyone on her staff is informative, friendly and professional, and so is
she. Check out the photo board on your way out, too - she's the only dentist
I've ever met who gets flossing photos from her patients' vacations!"

J. Handler

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