When do I not need as many dental X-rays?
While most patients get their X-rays taken every 6 months, there are patients who would do just fine taking their X-rays once a year. Here are some cases where you might want to talk to your dentist about taking less frequent X-rays on you:
Very low risk patients
If you are an adult with excellent teeth and healthy gums, you may opt to have your X-rays taken once a year instead of every 6 months. We don’t recommend you go any less than once a year without taking X-rays as this could seriously risk your teeth or gums. Here are the conditions you need to meet to be considered a very low risk patient:
- No presence of gum disease
- Straight teeth with no large gaps that trap food
- Excellent oral hygiene habits with daily brushing and flossing
- Very little to no history of existing dental work, maybe just a few small fillings at most
If you have gum disease, lots of existing dental work, crooked teeth or poor oral hygiene, then 6 months is the longest you should go without taking X-rays!
When pregnant, you must skip routine X-rays as precautionary measure. Only take X-rays for emergency pain situations after you’ve obtained your physician’s permission. Keep in mind that the ideal time to receive any sort of dental treatment during pregnancy is the second trimester.
History of cancer or other relevant 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. Of course many types of cancers affect your teeth by damaging your salivary flow, teeth quality or ability to maintain proper oral hygiene, so you may not be able to alter your frequency of X-rays after all.