How Often Should You Receive a Dental X-Ray Examination?

How often dental X-rays, also known as radiographs, should be taken depends on your individual health needs.

A dental X-ray examination can reveal damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. Among the problems that can be detected by a radiograph examination are small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing fillings, infections in the bone, periodontal disease, abscesses or cysts, developmental abnormalities and some types of tumors. Finding and treating such dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort.

It is important to recognize that just as each patient is different from the next, so should the scheduling of X-ray examinations be individualized for each patient. Your dentist will review your history, examine your mouth and then decide if you need radiographs and what type.

If you are a new patient, the dentist may recommend radiographs to determine the present status of the hidden areas of your mouth and to help analyze changes that may occur later. If you have had recent radiographs at your previous dentist, your new dentist may ask you to have the radiographs forwarded.

The schedule for receiving radiograph examinations at recall visits varies according to your age, risk for disease, and signs and symptoms. Recent radiographs may be needed to detect new cavities, determine the status of periodontal disease or evaluate growth and development.

Children may need X-ray examinations more often than adults because children's teeth and jaws are still developing and are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.

To learn more about dental X-ray examinations, visit the American Dental Association Web site at www.ada.org.

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