X-rays (Radiographs)

There are many important reasons why your dentist may recommend you have an X-ray, or an updated X-ray, taken as part of your examination.

X-rays help your dentist see all that is going on in your mouth. Things that can’t be seen with the naked eye, such as:

  • early stages of decay
  • infections in the bone
  • decay below the gum line
  • loss of bone due to gum disease or
  • the formation of baby teeth in children, can be captured through an X-ray.

By catching these issues early your dentist can treat the problem and reduce the likelihood of you needing more complex and costly treatment later. 

Frequency of X-rays

How often you get an X-ray depends on you. Each patient is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Your dentist will consider a number of factors such as your current oral and general health, age, risk for disease as well as any findings from your dental exam.

For children, further consideration will be given to their dental development. As a result more frequent X-rays may be recommended.

If you are pregnant, let your dentist know. X-rays can safely be taken during pregnancy and may be recommended to diagnose and treat a dental issue.

Safety measures

Dental X-rays produce a low level of radiation exposure, they are safe, and the benefits of having an X-ray to diagnose the early signs of disease must be considered. 

Dental X-rays are taken on a case-by-case basis and every effort is taken to adhere to the ALARA principle – As Low As Reasonably Achievable – to minimize exposure for both patients and dental staff. Dentists and dental teams must adhere to strict regulations related to X-ray equipment and the delivery of X-rays.

All X-ray equipment in BC dental offices must undergo and pass regular mandatory inspections to ensure safe operation. Your dental office will provide you with a lead apron when taking the X-ray to minimize exposure.

Refusing an X-ray

Whether or not you proceed with an X-ray is your choice. However, if you refuse an X-ray ensure that you understand what this can mean for your dental health. Ask your dentist:
• Why is he or she recommending an X-ray?
• What are the risks of delaying/deferring the X-ray?

Transferring X-rays

As a new patient to a dental office your dentist will recommend you have X-rays. However, if you had X-rays taken fairly recently at another office, you can ask to have copies transferred. Your consent is required to share any information and an administration charge may apply.