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How often do you get dental x-rays?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Just curious. I used to get them annually, but I read somewhere (Dr. Weil maybe) that getting them done every three years, or only if there is an issue, is better to reduce cumulative radiation exposure. Do you get new ones done for every appointment? If not, how often?

post #2 of 7

I get them annually.  I've wanted to question this practice, but I don't feel like I have enough ammo to do it.  I'm really interested in other responses...

post #3 of 7

My dentist only does them when we suspect a cavity or if it's been a really long time. I'm happy he's not to x-ray happy. I know he would have no problem with me passing on a "routine" x-ray.


My son's dentist (different from mine) wanted to do x-rays right away at our first appt. I didn't see the point, all of his teeth weren't even in at that point, plus if he had a cavity there wouldn't be much we could do yet. I've passed on the x-rays for both appt's he's had. I'll get a set done at some point, but am in no rush unless there is problem.

post #4 of 7

We do not have dental insurance, so I shop around for dental exams/cleanings. I was with one dentist for a very long time when I had insurance. His fees were outrageous without insurance, however. One of my criteria is how often xrays are required. The last three places were very inexpensive (two conventional and one holistic -- all under $50 inclusive of all procedures), so I relaxed my standards. They all required a full set of xrays before they would begin any procedures whatsoever.


The last dental office irritated me so much on this exact topic. I specifically asked for the least number of xrays possible. The receptionist assured me that was possible. When I got into the xray room, the tech insisted on a full set. When I questioned her, she had me go back to the waiting room until the dentist could speak to me. When the dentist had a spare moment, she had me go into the exam room and she acted like she was going to start the procedures (laying the chair back, putting on the paper/plastic "bib", etc) before she talked to me about the xrays. Bottom-line result: Either I agree to the full set of xrays or I could leave without being seen. I agreed and then the tech was so brutal, I nearly vomited all over her. She acted all huffy when I explained that the latex all over every surface was making me feel very sick and jamming the device into my mouth HURT and activated my gag reflex big time. She asked me if I was allergic to latex, which I am not, but then she got all offended when I asked to have something besides latex covering every surface she kept shoving into my mouth. The dentist herself was good and patient and kind, but the tech was obnoxious. The receptionist listened to me when she asked how the visit was and decided to put latex allergy on my file to make it easier next time. However, there won't be a next time there. I don't want a bunch of xrays every time I get a cleaning. The dentist essentially told me it was a CYA policy.


I'll need to keep searching because the holistic dentist had the same xray policy and some others that put me off from going back there (no parent in room with child was the biggest, but there were others as well).


All three of those places use digital xrays and insist it is minor exposure. I played devil's advocate at one point and asked what if I were pregnant (I'm not and they would know this if they looked at my intake form). The techs all said they cannot give xrays to pregnant women and I'd have to forgo my appointment. I was too surprised to ask the logical question then, but now I am wondering if the recommended "every six months" is a bunch of hooey??? I go once a year on principal and finances, but I find the whole pregnancy thing perplexing and deceiving. I was pregnant back in late 2000 and early 2001 and I do not recall if I had a dental cleaning or any other procedures during that timeframe...


The short answer to your question is once a year or less whenever it is possible. For myself.


For my DD, most places just used a digital CAMERA inside her mouth. The last two places required a full set of xrays (we go together, so the holistic dentist and the above dentist). The dentist three years ago, did bitewing xrays (digital xrays) and a digital camera throughout her mouth.


When I find a dentist I like with healthy practices, I will stick with him/her and collaborate to reduce xrays to a minimum. Still searching...

post #5 of 7

We just recently got dental insurance again, so we've all had a full set of xrays done.  After this though, we'll wait at least a year or more between xrays. 


My dh's in school to be a rad tech so we know all about exposure rates and we do tend to avoid unnecessary xrays even more now than before.  Apparently, dentist offices are supposed to use all the covering gear, including a thyroid shield, but most don't.  Since the thyroid is right near what they're xraying, it's most at risk.  From my dh's and his classmates experiences at the dentist, alot of the people taking x-rays have no clue the amount of radiation they and the patient are being exposed to.


I've had dental x-rays while pregnant.  I had the lap shield and that was it, but they only did a few x-rays.  My kids go in next week and we'll be asking for no x-rays.  If you don't want to have them done, tell them that.  Ask for shielding if they don't offer it.  You're the patient, you have every right to reduce your exposure to radiation.

post #6 of 7

By shielding, do you mean the lead apron? They put that on us at every dentist I've ever been to since as far back as I can recall.

post #7 of 7
Originally Posted by sunnysandiegan View Post

By shielding, do you mean the lead apron? They put that on us at every dentist I've ever been to since as far back as I can recall.

Yes.  And that's good, the last time I went in, they didn't want to give me anything.


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