Does a Pediatric Dentist Use Standard X-Rays for Children?

A pediatric dentist uses a variety of tools to evaluate the teeth of a child. One of these assessments is the use of x-ray images. Parents often ask about the role of x-rays in the field of pediatric dentistry, including what types of x-rays are used and what procedure is followed to obtain the images. 

Are standard dental x-rays used for children? 

When discussing the use of x-rays as part of routine dental care for children, it is normal for parents to question the benefits as well as the safety concerns they may have. Obtaining an answer to questions concerning the frequency of imaging and types of x-rays can help ease some of the worries. 

Dental imaging benefits

As soon as a child is able to sit for an x-ray, images can be taken to look for tooth placement and signs of decay. The dentist can identify future issues such as missing or extra teeth and head off cavities or infections before they become more serious. X-ray imaging can also reveal bone or jaw diseases that cannot be seen from exterior viewing alone. 

Imaging frequency

Adult dental images are taken at regular intervals to look for changes or concerns. Pediatric images follow a similar pattern. Higher-risk children may have x-rays every six months, while longer intervals are recommended for lower-risk patients. High-risk patients include those who have traditionally been non-compliant with brushing and flossing or who have a history of cavities, infections or other dental issues. 

Pediatric x-ray types

Similar to adult dental x-rays, pediatric dental images are taken from more than one angle to get a better view of overall health. The type of x-ray taken depends on the equipment the pediatric dentist practice has available as well as the ability of the patient to sit still for the amount of time it takes to capture an image. There are four main types of dental x-ray:

  • Occlusal: Upper and lower teeth at the same time
  • Panoramic: Joints, sinuses and all teeth on one film
  • Periapical: Details of roots and crowns of three teeth at once
  • Bitewings: Spaces between teeth for cavity detection

Pediatric dentist precautions for x-rays

A common worry of parents when they bring their children to the dentist is the safety of x-ray images for a young child. Modern x-ray machines capture high-speed images, leading to very minimal amounts of radiation. These machines are also engineered to focus the radiation on a narrow area of the body to prevent more exposure than is necessary. All radiation safety precautions are taken, including using apron shields to protect the body from any stray radiation. 

Conclusion

The use of x-ray imaging on a young patient can help a pediatric dentist identify current dental issues and discover potential future problems. Some parents question the necessity of dental imaging for pediatric patients, so it is important to understand the reasoning behind dental x-rays, the types of x-rays taken and the methods the dental practice uses to keep patients safe.

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