Category Archives: Dental Conditions

How Often Should You Take Dental X-rays: How to Decide

How to Decide?

Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have a lot of existing fillings?
  2. Do you a history of gum disease?
  3. Do you have several crowns in your mouth?
  4. Do you have missing teeth?
  5. Do you skip out on brushing or flossing your teeth on some occasions ?
  6. Do you consume too much processed sugars, such as candies, sweets, chocolates, sodas, etc.

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions then you should consider having X-rays taken every 6 months along with your exam and cleaning.

If you answered “no” to all of the above questions then you are a good candidate for taking X-rays every other visit. Note that you have to be your own advocate here as most dentists won’t offer you this option on their own. Also don’f forget that the assistants may be automatically programmed to take X-rays every six month so you may have to let the staff and assistants know that you have discussed taking X-rays once a year and are there only for a cleaning and check-up only.

Final Thought

We prefer taking regular X-rays to help avoid any potential serious dental problems. Dental X-rays have very low levels of radiation and most dentists only take a few X-rays every six months. A full set of X-rays which consists or 16 to 20+ X-rays is usually only reserved for the new patients so sticking with the same dentist helps reduce your exposure. Keep in mind that all the benefits of not taking as many X-rays will be negated should you end up with a single infected tooth as a result of having missed it due to lack of sufficient X-rays. You will now require a whole bunch of X-rays for the root canal and even more for the extraction or dental implant. It is best to take those few recall X-rays regularly to help avoid these more serious problems.

helpful hint – Keep in mind that if you want to reduce radiation you need to be careful when switching dentists. Your new dentist will require a full set of X-rays to allow him or her to treat you. If you are switching dentists, consider obtaining a copy of your most current X-rays with you to allow the new dentist to skip having to take a full set of X-rays. But if you haven’t been to the dentist in a few years you will require new X-rays regardless, so don’t go through the troubles of obtaining these X-rays as they will not really help much any longer.

NEXT >> How Often Should You Take Dental X-rays: On Every 6 Month Checkup

How Often Should You Take Dental X-rays: Every Other Checkup (Once a Year)

How Often Should You Take Dental X-rays: Every Other Checkup (Once a Year)

1. Less exposure to radiation. Dental radiographs do expose you to some levels of radiation. Each X-rays equates to about 15 to 20 minute of regular daily radiation exposure and while that is not a lot, it’s still something.

helpful hint – Digital X-rays, the ones that go directly into the computer and bypass the need for films, expose you to even less radiation levels. So a thumbs up to your dentist if he or she is using digital X-rays.

2. Low risk patients don’t require X-rays as frequently. If you have excellent teeth and gums you may opt to have less X-rays taken. You can opt to go for once a year instead of 6 months, but we can’t recommend going any less than once a year without taking serious risks to your teeth or gums. Here are the conditions that make you a very low risk patient eligible for X-rays only once a year.

  • No history of gum disease
  • You have excellent oral hygiene and brush and floss diligently on a daily basis
  • Very little to no history of dental work, maybe just a few small fillings at most

3. History of cancer or other concerning medical issues. If you have had a previous history of cancer or any other medical issues where you are encouraged to minimize exposures to radiation, then talk to your dentist about the possibility of taking less frequent X-rays. He or she may be able to accommodate this if your oral health is good enough and you are a relatively low risk patient.

helpful hint – When pregnant, you must skip routine X-rays and only take them for emergency pain situations. You could still receive your scheduled dental cleanings with your dentist if they have current X-rays on file. Keep in mind that the ideal time to receive dental treatment during pregnancy, if you must, is the 2nd trimester.

NEXT >> How to Decide

How Often Should You Take Dental X-rays: On Every 6 Month Checkup

Seeing or Avoiding the Dentist During Pregnancy

10 Questions to help you decide on seeing or avoiding the dentist during pregnancy

Once you’ve read about does and don’ts of seeing a dentist during pregnancy, it’s now time to make a decision. Here is a list of question to better help you decide if seeing or avoiding the dentist during pregnancy makes more sense. Please answer each question with either a “yes” or “no“:

  1. Is your plan to get a dental cleaning?
  2. If you are in pain, would you say it’s between an 8 to 10 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest)?
  3. Is your pain severe and throbbing in nature?
  4. Does the pain last for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time?
  5. Are you still in your first or second trimester?
  6. Can you go back to a dentist you’ve already been to recently?
  7. If you can’t go back to your existing dentist, do you have access to pick up your X-rays from them?
  8. Have you already picked up a medical clearance letter from your physician?
  9. If you are in need of medications, have you already asked for them from your primary care or OB/GYN?
  10. Has your physician positively advised you to seek dental treatment for you pain?

Good candidate for seeing the dentist during pregnancy

If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you should get yourself ready and go to your dentist even if you are pregnant.

Question 1: Cleaning during pregnancy

There’s nothing wrong with getting a cleaning during your pregnancy as we’ve already mentioned. In fact, getting a dental cleaning during pregnancy is highly advisable. Especially if you’re suffering from pregnancy gingivitis which is indicated by easily bleeding gums or sudden development of teeth sensitivity.

Obviously, you want to avoid taking any X-rays for your dental cleaning. It’s also best to avoid getting numb, even if you normally prefer to do so. If your teeth are very sensitive, consider using topical numbing agents instead of injectable types. If this doesn’t work then have your dentist or hygienist switch out their cleaning instrument. For instance have them use a hand instrument instead of a cavitron which is typically more painful. Finally, try to get your dental cleaning during your second trimester to take maximum advantage of it.

Questions 2 through 4: Severity of pain

If you’re going to go through the hassles of seeing your dentist during pregnancy, there better be some serious pain! If your teeth are slightly hot and cold sensitive, try to modify your diet or use a sensitivity toothpaste to see if it helps. If however you are experiencing an actual toothache, such as one which is throbbing and lingering, then see your dentist immediately for further assistance.

Question 5: How far along you are

If you’re in your first or second trimester then you know that there is  still a ways to go. It makes more sense to try and seek some sort of treatment at this point. Especially if you experience pain early on during pregnancy, then you probably won’t be able to wait for so many more weeks. It’s best to make arrangements to go to your dentist and see if they can help fix your problem.

If however you are already too far along in your final trimester then it might just be wise to hold off just a bit longer. Consider talking to your physician for a little extra help with medications to better get you through these finals weeks. Of course you can always consult with your dentist to prepare yourself for what’s about to come if that’s your preference. Although at this point it might just make more sense to hold off on definitive treatment until after delivery.

Questions 6 and 7: Finding a new dentist

If you have a dentist you’ve been seeing regularly then seeking a consultation is rather easy. After all they already know you and probably even know which tooth it is that’s bothering you. They also have your X-rays on file which makes it much, much easier to treat you. Changing dentists during this period can be quite challenging. Building a relationship, taking X-rays and rendering quality care while pregnant are all more difficult when dealing with a new dentist.

Questions 8 through 10: Preparing for treatment

Once you’ve finally decided that you prefer to see your dentist, it’s now time to prepare for your appointment. See your primary care or OB/GYN to obtain a medical clearance letter beforehand. This way your dentist won’t have any excuse not to treat you.

Keep in mind that most dentists don’t require a clearance letter if you’re only seek a dental cleaning. However you should check with them in advance as this doesn’t always apply. Also make sure to ask your physician for any medication you might need. Note that dentists don’t like handing out any medications to pregnant moms.

Good candidate for avoiding the dentist during pregnancy

If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you should avoid going to the dentist and postpone treatment until after delivery.

Final thought on seeing or avoiding the dentist during pregnancy

Pregnancy and dentistry are definitely not best friends with one another! And it’s not so much that your dentist doesn’t want to treat you during pregnancy. It’s just that they don’t want to do fillings, crowns, root canals, extractions or pretty much anything aside from a simple cleaning! It can be a tough decision deciding on seeing or avoiding the dentist during pregnancy, and you have to make the final decision!

What is pregnancy gingivitis?

Pregnancy gingivitis is inflammation and bleeding of gums which happens to some pregnant moms. It results from hormonal changes in our bodies during pregnancy. Sometimes your physician will advise you to obtain a dental cleaning to get your pregnancy gingivitis under control. Of course if you notice anything wrong with your teeth or gums, then you should take initiative to go and get a dental cleaning. Otherwise there can be permanent damage to your gums and jawbone which causes problems for years to come.

NEXT >> What are the protocols for seeing the dentist during pregnancy?

What are precautions during pregnancy you should take when at the dentist?