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Why Does My Child Need Teeth X-Rays?

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A female dentist explaining a dental procedure to a child while holding a dental X-ray image.

A lot comes with protecting your child’s teeth. Whether scheduling regular check-ups or helping them practice good hygiene habits, you do everything you can to support their health. Part of that is understanding what’s happening under the surface, which is where X-rays come in.

X-rays can show what’s inside your teeth and gum. They’re beneficial for detecting developing problems like cavities, gum disease, or tooth overcrowding. This information can be invaluable when preparing treatment plans for orthodontics.

Detect Potential Issues Early with X-Rays

Children’s teeth develop quickly, and any unobserved issue that doesn’t get treatment could be a problem. By detecting these issues early, your child can receive prompt treatment, possibly preventing further damage that could require costly and more intensive treatments as they age. 

However, only some issues can be seen with the bare eye. Without X-rays, some cases may go unnoticed, leading to severe oral health problems in the future. For example, your kid’s dentist can use X-rays to monitor the growth of their adult teeth while they’re still beneath the gums. They can provide a comprehensive image of your child’s dental situation and detect growth abnormalities that may need addressing.

Depending on your family history, your dentist may want to keep a closer eye on particular issues known to run in families, and X-rays can help. By looking at the shape of your child’s jawbone, which they may have inherited, your dentist could predict future potential issues, such as impacted teeth.

X-Rays for Orthodontic Planning

With X-rays, your child’s dentist can more accurately plan necessary treatments. For example, if your child needs braces to correct crooked teeth, an X-ray could provide an in-depth view of the teeth and jaw alignment, allowing the dentist to design their treatment plan and give you an idea of the timeline.

When Do Children Need X-Rays?

Generally, children require dental X-rays more frequently than adults because children’s teeth, jaws, and gums are continuously developing and changing. Also, tooth decay is more common in children, potentially requiring even more X-rays.

This doesn’t mean your child needs to have an X-ray at every visit. Their dentist can determine if one is necessary by considering their age and current oral health. Children can also indicate if they think something is wrong, such as complaining of tooth pain or sudden sensitivity to hot or cold drinks or foods. This may indicate a deep cavity that requires treatment.

Are X-Rays Safe?

The radiation risk from X-rays is low. Dental X-rays use incredibly short bursts of radiation to capture images, and sophisticated technology can minimize radiation exposure to patients, including children. Furthermore, dental professionals follow strict guidelines and protocols to use a radiation dose as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).

Children can be more susceptible to radiation since their young cells are more sensitive. They also have more time to accumulate radiation over their lifetime. However, they require much less radiation to create an X-ray, so this tends to balance out. Your dentist should only recommend X-rays if it’s necessary for treatment or to monitor your child’s oral health.

What Precautions Will My Dentist Take?

While dental X-rays are safe, the Canadian Dental Association set out its positions on certain precautions to minimize risks. One way is to use digital radiography, which uses up to 70% less radiation than traditional dental X-ray machines to produce the same quality image.

You’ve likely seen other precautions during your own exams. These include lead aprons and thyroid shields to protect your child’s vital organs from scattered radiation.

X-Rays Are Worth It?

The potential risks of not having X-rays taken are hard to understate. If an oral health issue goes unnoticed, it can lead to serious problems down the line, including tooth loss and painful infections.

Your oral health is even tied to your overall well-being. Poor oral care has been linked to heart disease, which may not be a concern for your child now, but a good bedrock sets them up for a healthy future. Early detection can lead to less invasive and less expensive dental treatments, making it an important investment in your child’s future dental health.

A dentist checks their young patient's teeth using a dental mirror

Comprehensive Care for Your Family

Routine dental X-rays for your child are an essential part of keeping their smiles and health goals in sight. By tracking development and detecting hidden issues, X-rays play a crucial role in promoting optimal oral health and helping to prevent future problems.

You have the power to keep your children on a path to success, and our team at Bloom Orthodontics has the knowledge and technology to help. We use X-rays to plot out orthodontic treatments that can leave your child—and you—smiling all the way home.Don’t leave potential oral problems in the dark; shine a light by booking your child’s next exam today.

Written by Bloom Dentistry

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