3 minute read

What Parents Should Know About Dental X-rays

How Much Radiation is in a Dental X-ray?

Radiation is all around and everywhere. The picture below is from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and shows background radiation that all Canadians are exposed to. According to Health Canada, the estimated effective dose from two little dental x-rays is the equivalent of 0.3 days worth of background radiation.

Natural Radiation

Are Dental X-rays Necessary?

There is only so much I can see with my naked eye. I see colour changes, shape of tooth and cavities if they are on the surface but I cannot tell how deep they go.

There is so much more information that x-rays tell us: depth of cavity, cavities starting between teeth, missing adult teeth, extra tooth, fused teeth, crooked roots, adult teeth growing in wrong direction, cysts and infection.  The list goes on.

Without knowing all the information, I cannot give the best treatment plan possible for your child.

How Often are Dental X-rays Required?

Frequency is based on clinical findings. For the majority of children, we take little x-rays once a year. Little x-rays show cavities between teeth. Children who have a lot of cavities may need x-rays more often until their mouth is under control.


Are Digital X-rays better than Conventional Film X-rays?

Yes, it reduces radiation to the patient. A lot of dental offices have been switching to digital x-rays. Playtime Pediatric Dentistry has the newest x-ray machines that are digital. It lowers radiation to your child and we can present and adjust the image on the computer so you can see it too.

How Can a Dentist Reduce Radiation for My Child?

  • Lead Apron: All children wear lead aprons to protect especially sensitive organs such as reproductive organs.
  • Good Explanation: If your child moves, we need to re-take the x-ray, which doubles the radiation. Here at Playtime Pediatric Dentistry, we take our time to explain each step to your child so he or she understands what to do. This reduces the risk of your child moving and re-taking x-rays.
  • We are child specialists and all our assistants are specifically trained to child-size the x-rays. All dental x-ray machines come with different settings for little children and teenagers.

If you are concerned about medical and dental radiation, check out Image Gently. They are the alliance for radiation safety in pediatric imaging. Their website offers lots of good information both in medicine and dentistry.

Dr. Ella Choi completed her Masters Degree in Craniofacial Science from University of British Columbia. Her research topic was dental radiation in children.  She presented her research at multiple conferences including the International Association for Dental Research Conference and Canadian Association of Pediatric Dentistry Conference. Dr. Ella Choi is very knowledgeable on this topic and would like to give you answers on commonly asked questions.

If you are interested in reading Dr. Ella’s published research, click here.

Dr. Ella Choi is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry serving Surrey, White Rock, Delta and Langley in Beautiful British Columbia.