Dentist examining dental x-ray

An X-Ray of Baby Teeth: When, What, and How

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Every parent worries about their child, so it's natural for some to have concerns around their toddler or infant's first dental visit. Is it safe to take X-rays of baby teeth? What should I look for in finding a dental professional? We're here to walk you through why X-rays are safe, how often you should schedule dental visits, and how to pick a good dental professional.

When to Visit

With so much going on in your child’s first year of life, it can be challenging to decide when to bring them in for their first dental visit. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends visiting before they turn one year old or when their first primary (baby) teeth come in (which usually occurs at around six months old).

After their first visit, we recommend that your child visit their dental professional as often as adults: at least every six months. At your first visit, you can discuss a schedule as your dental professional may have specific insight into why more or less frequent visits are appropriate for your child.

Helpful tip: You can (and should!) start an oral care routine for your baby after their born. You can clean their gums with a soft cloth and fluoride toothpaste once a day. When their primary (baby) teeth come in, you can replace the cloth with a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will help prevent dental problems and can be a fun way to bond with your baby.

X-Rays and What to Expect

Your infant’s primary (baby) teeth are vital to their development and health. Not only do they help with chewing and eating, but they also assist in speaking and make it easier for their permanent (adult) teeth to grow in.

To help your child form positive associations with dental care, consider giving them a reward like a small toy for good behavior after each visit. It can also help to be a good example by talking about how much you like going to your dental professional (even if it’s not your favorite activity!) or role-modeling a proper oral care routine.

Whether or not your child will need an X-ray of their primary (baby) teeth is dependent on their individual health history and needs. Dental X-rays are considered a safe and effective method to gain insight into your child’s oral development and health needs. As your child’s primary teeth will not have fully come in until they’re two to three years old, X-rays offer the ability to see within the gums and uncover potential problems. Addressing dental problems as soon as possible is essential to avoiding resulting concerns.

X-rays contain a low level of radiation that is considered well within safe parameters, even for your toddler or infant. Dental professionals are trained to use methods that are safe for your child. According to the American Cancer Society, an X-ray has equivalent radiation to the amount you get by living 10 days of your normal daily life.

If you’re concerned about X-rays, your dental professional will be happy to answer your questions. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • Why do you recommend this X-ray for my child?
  • Are there other options?
  • What can we expect to learn from this X-ray?

Helpful tip: A good dental professional will be an expert at putting you and your child at ease for any treatment, procedure, or X-rays. We recommend trusting your dental professional but also being confident in voicing your questions and concerns.

Finding the Right Dental Professional

Finding the perfect fit for a dental professional for your child can seem difficult, but rest assured that there are specialists known as pediatric dentists. However, other dental professionals are also well-equipped to work with your child.

Some qualities to look out for may include a dental professional who:

  • Accepts your insurance
  • Offers pricing that fits your budget
  • Is sensitive to your wants, needs, and concerns
  • Works well with children and makes them feel at ease
  • Answers your questions thoroughly and respectfully
  • Explains their rationale and recommendations clearly

It’s a good idea to find someone you and your child feel comfortable and safe working with. Dental professionals can make a lasting difference, so it’s smart to put some effort into finding a good match.

Methods to find an appropriate dental professional may include:

  • Referral from your friends, family, or medical professional
  • Searching online for those located nearby
  • Looking to see if there’s a local dental society that lists dental professionals

It can be stressful to prepare for your child's first dental visits, but you should feel reassured knowing that professionals are experts in helping you and your child have positive dental experiences. Keep in mind that dental X-rays are safe for children of all ages and provide only a low radiation amount. You've made a great choice to read up on X-rays for your infant and what to expect at their first dental visit.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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