Dental specialist showing an x ray of teeth to a patient

Do You Actually Need Dental X-Rays?

X-rays are an essential and invaluable tool that helps your dentist evaluate your oral health.

They provide a glimpse into what’s happening beneath the surface of your teeth and gums. Because of this, your dentist may be able to see things that they may have missed during their visual exam, including:

  • Decay between your teeth or below fillings
  • Infections in your bone and gums
  • Abscesses and cysts
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Tumours

If left untreated, all of these problems can lead to painful problems that are time-consuming and costly to treat.

How much radiation is in a dental x-ray?

It depends on what kind of x-ray machine your dentist is using.

If they use a traditional, film-based model, the amount of radiation you’re exposed to is a fraction of the exposure you’d get during a chest x-ray for example.

If they use digital x-rays, your exposure to radiation is up to 90% less than film-based x-rays – only 0.2 millisieverts (or mS, the unit used to measure radiation) to be exact. If you’re concerned about whether or not that is too much radiation to be exposed to, consider the following:

  • You get 0.1 mS of radiation from eating a banana
  • Your daily dose of radiation from being outside is 10 mS
  • Living in a brick house for one year exposes you to 70 mS
  • A mammogram is 3,000 mS of radiation

Despite the exposure to a very small amount of radiation, the benefits of x-rays far outweigh any risks.

Do I have to get an x-ray every time I visit the dentist?

This depends on your oral health.

If you regularly visit the dentist and you don’t have any cavities or other problem areas, you probably won’t need an x-ray at every appointment. But if you are undergoing a lot of dental work, your dentist may suggest x-rays at every appointment to monitor your progress.

In a lot of cases, getting an x-ray at every dental examination (once or twice a year) is sufficient, but not always. If you’re not sure how often you need x-rays, speak to your dentist.

Where can I get digital x-rays in Ottawa or Kanata?

If you’re looking for a dental office who uses the best in modern dental technology, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrea Stevens.

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