3 Things Parents Should Know About Dental X-Rays for Their Children

You may be wary about having your child get dental X-rays since you may be worried about radiation exposure and the discomfort of the bulky X-ray sensor holders. Here are three things parents should know about dental X-rays that can help assuage their fears.

Digital X-Rays Are Safer Than Traditional Film

Many dental offices have transferred over from traditional film to digital X-rays. X-ray machines in dental offices are already very safe since the positioning equipment narrows the beam and reduces scatter radiation; however, digital devices make X-rays even safer. According to DentistryIQ, digital systems reduce radiation exposure by 80% compared to film-based systems. Your child's dentist will be following the ALARA principle, which means keeping the radiation exposure "As Low as Reasonably Achievable."

There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Box Regarding Frequency

Keep in mind that your child doesn't need X-rays at each dental visit. According to Web MD, the frequency of X-rays will depend on your child's age, risk factors, health history, history of cavities, etc. If your child has poor oral health, impacted teeth, and other health issues, then your dentist may want more frequent X-rays. The benefits of preventative oral health often outweigh the risks of low radiation exposure.

X-Rays May Be Easier for Children at a Pediatric Office

You may have no problem with the safety aspects of X-rays, but you may be worried about the discomfort your child will face taking them. After all, if your child is uncomfortable and moves, then more X-rays will need to be taken to get a good image, thus increasing radiation exposure.

The good news is there are lots of ways to reduce the discomfort of digital X-ray sensors in children. You should take your child to a pediatric specialist since he or she will have pediatric-size sensors that are smaller and a better fit for children's mouths than other sensors. Pediatric specialists may also have snap-a-ray film holders, which don't require your child to hold sensor holders themselves if they don't have good hand coordination.

If your child is small and scared of taking X-rays, then the pediatric office may let you or another guardian have the child sit in your lap. Both of you would be covered in protective lead aprons. Some dentists may administer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to keep a child calm while the X-ray is being taken.

Reach out to a pediatric dental specialist in your area for more information on how to make X-rays safer and more comfortable for your child.