Dental X-Rays: When to Get Them (cont.)
In this Article
- What Types of Problems Can X-Rays Detect?
- How Often Should Teeth Be X-Rayed?
- How Safe Are X-Rays?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
How Often Should Teeth Be X-Rayed?
The frequency of getting X-rays often depends on your medical and dental history and current condition. Some people may need X-rays as often as every six months; others with no recent dental or gum disease and who visit their dentist regularly may get X-rays only every couple of years. If you are a new patient, your dentist may take X-rays as part of the initial examination and to establish a baseline record from which to compare changes that may occur over time.
Some general guidelines your dentist may follow regarding the frequency of dental X-rays is as follows:
|Age Group||New patients||Recall patient, high risk (decay is present)||Recall patient, no decay, not at high risk for decay||Current or history of gum disease||Other comments|
|Children (before eruption of first tooth)||Bite-wing X-rays if the teeth are touching and all surfaces cannot be visualized or probed||Bite-wing X-rays taken every 6 months until no decay is present||Bite-wing X-rays taken every 12 to 24 months if the teeth are touching and all surfaces cannot be visualized or probed||Selected periapicals and bite-wing X-rays of areas where disease is seen in the mouth||X-rays to check for growth and development are usually not indicated at this age|
|Adolescents (before eruption of wisdom teeth)||Bite-wing X-rays plus periapicals or occlusal views or bite-wing X-rays plus panoramic view. A full-mouth series is indicated when there is evidence of dental disease or history of extensive decay.||Bite-wing X-rays taken every 6 to 12 months until no decay is present||Bite-wing X-rays taken every 18 to 36 months||Selected periapicals and bite-wing X-rays of areas where disease is seen in the mouth||Periapical or panoramic X-rays should be taken to check for development of wisdom teeth|
|Adults with teeth||Bite-wing X-rays and selected periapicals. A full-mouth series is indicated when there is evidence of dental disease or history of extensive decay.||Bite-wing X-rays taken every 12 to 18 months||Bite-wing X-rays taken every 24 to 36 months||Selected periapicals and bite-wing X-rays of areas where disease is seen in the mouth||X-rays to check for growth and development are usually not indicated.|
|Adults without teeth||Full-mouth series or panoramic X-rays. Other X-rays are usually not indicated unless specific dental disease is clinically present.|
People who fall into the high risk category who may need X-ray films taken more frequently include:
- Children. Children generally need more X-rays than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and because their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay.
- Adults with extensive restorative work, such as fillings to look for decay beneath existing fillings or in new locations.
- People who drink a lot of sugary beverages to look for tooth decay (since the sugary environment creates a perfect situation for cavities to develop).
- People with periodontal (gum) disease to monitor bone loss.
- People who have dry mouth whether due to medications (such as antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, antihistamines, and others) or disease states (such as Sjogren's syndrome, damaged salivary glands, radiation treatment to head and neck). Dry mouth conditions can lead to the development of cavities.
- Smokers to monitor bone loss resulting from periodontal disease (smokers are at increased risk of periodontal disease).
Next: How Safe Are X-Rays?
WebMD Oral Health
Get tips for a healthy mouth.