How often should dental x-rays be taken?

Most people know they should be going to the dentist regularly to get a check-up and cleaning– at least every six months. You may wonder, however, what else the dentist should be checking. After all, you probably have noticed that sometimes a visit also includes dental x-rays, but not always. So how often should dental x-rays be taken? Are dental x-rays even necessary at all?

It may surprise you to know that dental x-rays are vital to your oral health, just like the typical cleaning and visual check. Dental x-rays can reveal the initial stages of tooth decay before it shows up as a painful cavity. This allows your dentist to take preventative measures and avoid worse damage. Dental x-rays are also the only way to see certain kinds of tooth disease and damage. Gum disease, for example, can cause serious bone loss that will only be visible on x-rays until it is too late. For many children (and some adults), x-rays are the only way to discover an impacted tooth, which must be removed before it causes damage to your bite and smile.

Your dentist needs to get the full picture of your dental health, a lot of which is occurring beneath the gumline. X-rays are the only way dentists can see what’s going on under the surface. Every patient should get basic bitewing x-rays of molars every year and more extensive x-rays of the adjacent roots and bones every three to five years.

Could I Need Dental X-Rays More Often?

Of course, these recommendations are only accurate for people in good dental health. If you regularly experience tooth decay or cavities, you may need dental x-rays as often as every six months to monitor for problems. In particular, patients with periodontal disease (gum disease) require more regular x-rays to watch for bone loss and further erosion.

Children also may require more regular dental x-rays. Because all of their adult teeth have not yet erupted, it’s important to see how those teeth below the gumline are faring. Close monitoring of adult teeth still not visible in the mouth ensures that your children have a healthy smile as they grow up. In particular, children with braces and other orthodontics may need more regular x-rays to ensure that the braces are doing their job correctly.

Ultimately, your dentist should be able to advise you on how often you may need dental x-rays. It’s important to take their advice seriously and get the x-rays you need for a healthy mouth and smile. If you have not had any dental x-rays in a while, it may be in your best interests to come talk to one of our dentists about getting them done.