Image of Boy with dental x-ray

Dental X-Rays for Kids

Dental x-rays are some of the most important tools that our dentists have to track how children’s teeth develop and to look for signs of decay or other diseases. Cavities can be detected on an x-ray, and since children need to be carefully monitored for cavities, regular x-rays are an essential part of every child’s dental care. Properly administered, dental x-rays are among the safest of all radiography. Your dentist will discuss his/her recommendations for your child.

Keeping kids safe during dental x-rays

We employ modern x-ray equipment to ensure the safety of the children we treat. Our X-rays operate with very small doses of radiation, and they use much faster film that previous generations of x-ray equipment. Lastly, your child will be given a lead apron to wear during radiography, further restricting the impact of stray radiation.

Child dental x-rays: What kinds and how often?

As children age and have regular dental exams, we are able to assess and monitor your child’s dental health. The frequency for which your child will be recommended to have dental x-rays is based on a dental exam and risk assessment. It is important to take select dental x-ray images for children to help assess and monitor the development of the child’s teeth and assess a child’s susceptibility to dental disease such as tooth decay or other dental diseases.

Common types of dental x-rays:

Bitewing x-rays are usually indicated to assess areas of the teeth that cannot be seem by eye sight alone. When your child has their molars erupted, the dentist will examine and determine if bitewing x-rays are advised to assess what are known as the interproximal areas of a tooth (where too adjacent teeth contact). These images also help a dentist to assess the alveolar bone (this is the bone that holds a tooth in place in the jaw)! Dental caries can often start in the adjacent areas where teeth touch. Bitewing x-rays help a dentist identify these types of cavities.

Periapical x-rays are an important tool that allow your child’s dentist to assess a single tooth (in some cases multiple teeth) and the surrounding structures for that tooth – such as the root and supporting jaw bone known as alveolar bone. These type of dental x-rays maybe recommended for your child if there is need to check for extensive decay, dental abscesses, gum disease, or bone loss. When a child’s first permanent molars erupt, usually around age six, dentists may recommend a panoramic x-ray image. Panoramic x-rays take a picture of the entire mouth; however, they take twelve to eighteen seconds to expose, so kids need to be able to sit still for that length of time in order for the x-ray to be successful. These “panorex” x-rays are great at tracking growth and development of a child’s teeth and oral structures.

The American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that kids who are at high risk for dental disease, e.g., have cavities or history of cavities, or signs of plaque or tarter build-up and other caries risk factors, should have x-rays taken every six to twelve months. Because dental disease can progress rapidly in a child’s teeth, our dentists typically recommend bitewing x-rays for high caries risk children every 6 months. For children and teens who have healthy dental exams, your dentist may recommend to decrease the frequency for which x-rays are indicated.