Are dental X-rays bad for my child?
No, dental X-rays actually give off very little radiation. In fact, your child would need more than 400 dental X-rays taken in one year to just equal the amount of radiation we are exposed to by the environment. (And this does not include the radiation we are exposed to by appliances like computers, microwaves or television screens.)
Scientifically speaking, the average radiation we are exposed to in the U.S. from natural sources per year is 3.0 mSv; the radiation from dental X-rays in a child on average is less than 0.04 mSv. It's also important to note that these statistics are based on studies done with conventional film X-rays, and in many offices today, we have digital X-rays that use about one-fourth of the radiation of film X-rays.
In addition, the benefits to kids' dental health from obtaining X-rays, including diagnosing decay, pathology or any abnormalities, far outweigh the risks of being exposed to this radiation.
Since every child is different, the need for dental X-ray films varies from child to child. Films are taken only after a complete review of your child's health and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual exam cannot.
In general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly, and they are more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends X-ray examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require X-rays less frequently.
Even though X-rays are safe, every precaution still should be taken to minimize radiation exposure. Make sure your dentist covers your child with a leaded apron with a leaded thyroid collar. High-speed film and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.