As a pediatric dentist, we recommend that kids and teens get dental x-rays every single year. They provide a variety of benefits. However, many adults do not get dental x-rays nearly as often. There is a misconception that x-rays are only needed for teenagers and children because their teeth are developing. In this article we will cover the uses of dental x-rays and when/how often parents should be getting them.
On average kids get dental x-rays every other dental cleaning. If kids come to the dentist once each six months, they will get dental x-rays once a year. One of the primary reasons we take x-rays of children is that it allows us to track their dental development. Parents should consider finding a dentist they can bring all of their kids from young childhood until they are older teenagers. Dentists can track the development of teeth from visit to visit and better understand and prevent any dental issues. With yearly x-rays a dentist can track how the adult teeth are moving and make sure that teeth are coming in straight and on schedule. However, another reason we take x-rays is to scan for dental decay. In many cases, teeth can get damaged beyond the gum line which means it would not be visible during a normal routine cleaning. This is a key reason why adults should also be getting dental x-rays.
As mentioned above, we can use x-rays to screen for dental problems. An adult’s teeth are generally less susceptible to dental decay as children’s developing teeth, however, they are still at risk. Many insurances cover yearly dental x-rays, and because they are quick and painless most adults will opt-in. However, dental x-rays may not need to be done every 12 months if an adult has had a long track record of good oral health. Dental x-rays show us how teeth are doing, but so does the area of the teeth that we can see. If you have a history of not flossing/brushing correctly and of dental issues, you should get x-rays yearly. But if you have not had any dental issues for many consecutive visits, you could consider only getting x-rays every 18-24 months. It really depends on what you prefer.
Although X-rays may not be necessary every single visit, you should always see a dentist every six months. If you need to schedule a visit for you or your child, consider scheduling it with All Star Dental.