Dr. Michelle Stafford of World Of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Portland, OR explains when kids should first have dental x-rays.
At World of Smiles we strive to have the most state-of-the-art technology to provide our patients the best possible care as comfortable as possible. Digital x-rays allow us to do this by being thinner than the traditional cardboard film, and developing faster than traditional films. To ensure the most comfort to our patients we purchased a very special x-ray machine that takes bite-wing films by only having the patient bite down with their front teeth. This means no more painful objects being placed in the sides of your mouth! No more films inside your mouth making you gag or causing you pain or making your eyes water with discomfort. With these x-rays we have eliminated gagging and struggling to keep the films in place. We are the only pediatric dental office in the Portland Metro Area with this brand new technology. It is so quick and easy even patients as young as three can handle it with ease!
What does a dentist do on a roller coaster?…He braces himself
One of the questions that I often field from concerned first-time dental visitors is, “Are you going to take x-rays of my child?” When I hear that question, so many things flash through my mind, but what stands out is that what the parent is really asking is, “Is this safe for my child – and if not, are you still going to do it?”
What I wish is that I could assure all parents that our primary focus is the health and safety of your child. It’s why we have our oft-quoted Parent Guidelines, why we choose BPA-Free and Mercury-Free products, why we undergo extensive training prior to working in this office and during the time we are here to know how to make the experience for a child both positive AND safe. When the doctor recommends a course of treatment or a method of diagnosis, she is doing so having weighed the potential risks and known benefits and ensured that her decision will be the safest for each child we see.
Given that as our foundation, it follows that we would use x-rays only for that health and safety also. However, recent articles like this one and others often will question the benefits of x-ray diagnosis when radiation is involved. It is vitally important to inform yourself as a parent and educate yourself on even the most routine of visits; not only to protect your child, but also so that you can have an intelligent knowledge of dental health that you can continue to teach to your children. The American Assocation of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is an excellent resource (check out their links for parents) to understand what should happen at your child’s visit, and the ADA also has great information as well.
But back to x-rays. Should they really be done every year and what risk does it pose to your child? Both the AAPD and the ADA recommend that x-rays be done every year for a child that has teeth touching (generally around age 4 or 5 is when that would start occuring, although it varies from child to child) , and more often if a child has past history of caries (decay), so that the dentist can accurately diagnose cavities on those surfaces and below the surface. As this article so poignantly suggests, if a toe or nose were eroding slowly from decay, parents are educated already to do something promptly about their child’s health, but when teeth start decaying, at times it isn’t a priority or we don’t understand the gravity of the situation.
Thankfully there are many options with new technology that limit radiation exposure. For example, the type of digital radiography used here at World of Smiles produces less radiation than an active microwave. When you consider how much radiation is active in our daily atmosphere; to have minimal exposure once a year for the prevention of decay and the diagnosis of bone pathologies or other dental disorders (ie: missing teeth, extra teeth, etc) and restore the child to active health is a much higher benefit than risking their overall health. And you should always feel like you can talk to your child’s care provider about your concerns and questions; they are here to assist you in understanding everything involved with the care and well-being of your child!
Why are digital radiographs better?
Digital radiographs or x-rays are better for you than the traditional form of x-rays for several reasons. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation exposure to the patient. Due to the high speed of computer processing there is a faster diagnostic time which means less waiting for you, the patient. Most often the actual film size is smaller and therefore easier to tolerate in your mouth. Once your records are digital it is easy for your doctor or dentist to be able to provide you a digital copy or send a copy to another provider on your behalf. And of course there are no harmful chemicals used to develop the x-rays and therefore the environmental impact of traditional x-rays is eliminated.
Joke of the Day: What did the dentist see at the North Pole?…A molar bear
Dr. Staci Whitman and Dr. Michelle Stafford worked for nearly two years to bring World Of Smiles to North Portland. They seek to partner with families to provide education and motivation for healthy dental habits. The practice strives for excellent patient care with a holistic, integrative approach while offering innovative treatment options. Both Docs enjoy teaching families and other healthcare professionals the importance of prevention and laying a foundation of healthy dental practices from a young age. They advocate for infant and child oral health, have had extensive experience with patients of special needs, and are Board Certified Pediatric Dentists. Learn more about who your family will partner with at your next visit!