OPINION

Learn the Risks of Dental X-Rays for Your Child

Ron Inge, DDS
Chief Dental Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Professional Services, Delta Dental of Missouri
Ron Inge, DDS

Radiographs, more commonly known as x-rays, are a valuable tool used by dentists to identify problems in teeth and surrounding bones. While beneficial, there are risks associated with radiation, and infants, children and young adults are most at risk for developing the long-term, adverse consequences. 

The main concern with dental radiographs is not as much the dose of a single radiograph—as it is the high frequency of dental x-ray exposures. The frequency of exposure comes from x-rays taken semi-annually or annually when they are not necessary.

The American Dental Association and Food and Drug Administration work to inform dentists about the harms of x-rays and instruct them to always use the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principle to limit exposure to radiation. This helps ensure that dental radiographs are limited to only when the dentist deems them clinically necessary after a full check of the child’s teeth, health history, risk factors, diet, fluoride use and more—knowing that children with a low risk for tooth decay will need radiographs less frequently. 

As a parent or guardian, it is vital for you to know the risks related to x-rays and to talk with your child’s dental care provider to stay informed. Ongoing dialogue can help limit your child’s cumulative exposure to radiation.

Ron Inge, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Professional Services, Delta Dental of Missouri.