Radiographs Benefit Your Teeth

Radiographs also called X-rays, save your teeth in ways you may not think of. “Most people remember the old X-rays as being dangerous, but the technology has come a long way,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix cosmetic dentistry office. “Radiographs are an important part of saving your smile,” she explains.

No one should take radiographs casually, but there are serious and necessary benefits to having a radiograph done. The website WebMD reminds us that “X-rays help the dentist find and treat dental problems early in their development, which can potentially save you money, unnecessary discomfort, and maybe even your life.”


It’s easy to understand that decay may be hidden under an existing filling or between teeth. “Places that aren’t visible to the unaided eye can become danger spots for both the dentist and the patient,” says Dr. Ford. “What isn’t discovered can get larger, harbor more bacteria, and move from being easily treated to being more difficult to treat,” she adds.

Other problems that are found using radiographs are bone loss that accompany gum disease, changes in the root canal that indicate infection the patient does not yet notice, an abscess at the root of the tooth or between the gum and the tooth.

Each of these problems, which can be found easily with radiographs and can be treated early can cause more serious disease if ignored.

Radiation is everywhere all the time. It drifts down from high altitudes as a natural part of how the universe works. Walking outside exposes you to radiation. Flying exposes you to more radiation. The higher the airplane altitude, the less atmosphere to protect you. The website X-Ray Risk compares the amount of radiation people are exposed to: A seven hour airplane trip exposes passengers to 0.02 mSv of radiation, which is a fraction of the exposure of a standard Chest x-ray (0.1 mSv.) The measure mSv stands for millisievert, or the average dose of background we each receive in a year.

Doing the math, a two-hour airplane flight gives you about the same amount of radiation exposure as a dental radiograph.

It’s also smart to be careful and choose how much radiation you expose yourself to. Ask your dentist to give you more information and be sure to mention if you are pregnant or think your are pregnant. Dentists have lead aprons with collars that can protect you from unnecessary radiation.

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