You’re parents, so you worry. It comes with the job description! That’s why you make regular appointments with your children’s doctors and dentists for preventive care and examinations. That’s why you make sure your kids wear mouth guards and other protective gear when playing sports. And that’s why you want to know all about the X-rays that are used when your children need dental treatment.
First of all, it’s reassuring to know that the amount of radiation we are exposed to from a single dental X-ray is very small. A set of bitewing X-rays, for example, exposes us to an amount of radiation that is approximately the same as the amount of radiation we receive from our natural surroundings in a single day.
Even so, doctors are especially careful when children need X-rays, because their bodies are still growing and their cells are developing more rapidly than adults. And children often have different oral and dental needs than adults, which can require different types of imaging.
In addition to the usual X-rays that are taken to discover cavities, fractures, or other problems, young patients might need X-rays from their dentists or orthodontists:
- To confirm that their teeth and jaws are developing properly.
- To make sure, as permanent teeth come in, that baby teeth aren’t interfering with the arrival and position of adult teeth, and that there’s enough space in the jaw to accommodate them.
- To plan orthodontic treatment.
And if your child has any dental or medical conditions that can best be treated by an oral surgeon, diagnostic X-rays might be needed. Dental X-rays are used, for example, in order to:
- Check the progress and placement of wisdom teeth before they are extracted.
- Locate fractures, breaks, or other damage to the teeth and jaws after an accident or injury.
- Discover and treat damage or infection which recurs after root canal work.
- Diagnose and plan treatment for conditions which might require corrective jaw surgery.
- Facilitate the placement of dental implants when children have lost or missing teeth. Because young jaws are still growing, this placement requires special care.
So, how do oral surgeons and radiologists make sure your child’s radiation exposure during any X-ray procedure is as minimal as possible?
Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.
Moreover, radiologists are devoted to raising awareness about the latest advances in imaging safety not only for dental and medical practitioners, but for the public, as well. With children in mind, pediatric radiologists from a number of professional associations have joined together to create the Image Gently Alliance, offering specific guidelines for the specific needs of young patients.
And because we are always concerned about the safety of our patients, medical and dental associations around the world, including the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, are Image Gently Alliance member organizations.
The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging for young people have been designed to make sure all children have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. As oral surgical specialists, Dr. Herbst and our team work to restore children’s smiles through many different procedures, and we ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:
- We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
- We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
- We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
- We set exposure times based on each child’s size and age, using the fastest film or digital image receptors.
We know your child’s health and safety are always on your mind, so you’re proactive about medical and dental care. And your child’s health and safety are always on our minds, too, so we’re proactive when it comes to all of our medical and dental procedures.
Please free to talk with our Union City, NJ team about X-rays and any other imaging we recommend for your child. We want to put your mind at ease, knowing that X-rays will be taken only when necessary, will be geared to your child’s age and weight, and will be used with protective equipment in place. Because ensuring your child’s health and safety? That comes with our job description!