It’s fairly typical for dentists to suggest bitewing x-rays as an annual part of an oral screening. Insurance companies typically reimburse for these procedures and they are generally thought of as safe and effective early detection devices for cavities, bone problems, and even, cancer.
However, the guidelines for when x-rays happen should depend upon your general oral health, according to the latest from the American Dental Association (ADA). This article looks at the latest recommendations from the ADA and when you really should have x-rays – and when you shouldn’t.
Las Vegas Dentists and X-Ray screening
According to the ADA, adults who have impeccable oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing and regular checks up with the dentist do not necessarily need x-rays each year. The New York Times reported on the ADA recommendations, reporting that if you’re a non-smoker and at low risk for gum disease, the ADA now suggests you can go two to three years before your next set of bitewings.
However, if you have a history of cavities, smoke, or have other high-risk indicators, you should get x-rays a minimum of every 18 months, and possibly more, depending on your health. It normally takes two years for a cavity to develop in an adult tooth. The rate is much faster in a child’s tooth, so bitewings should occur more frequently.
But the guidelines now say that children with properly spaced baby teeth and no cavities can skip the x-rays until their adult teeth come in. In older children, if they are low-risk for cavities and generally in good health, the frequency of x-rays can range between 18 months to two years.
However, it is very important to note the importance of bitewings. Without periodic dental x-rays, there is a risk that your dentist will miss important changes under the surface of your enamel. Cavities, the position of the teeth, the underlying structures, and gum disease simply cannot be properly measured without periodic low-dose x-rays. Full mouth, head or 3-D cone-beam tomography are even more important for revealing disease before it manifests itself. For example, orthodontists need these measurements in order to treat tricky structural problems in teens and adults.
The Safety of X-Rays
X-rays have been safely used for the past 120 years. Yet a Consumer Reports study suggested that the overuse of x-rays could be detrimental. Over the years, dental x-rays have grown increasingly precise, targeting the specific tooth, while shielding the rest of the body from harm.