We now have very comprehensive data on patient radiation doses from dental X-rays, and as it turns out, dental X-rays are among the lowest radiation dose exams of any diagnostic radiologic process in medicine.

Truth be told, there is no limit to how many dental X-rays you can have. The decision to have a dental X-ray should be determined by the benefit of knowing whether or not there is an abnormality in your dental health.

Current methods deliver patient doses that are less than what a person would be exposed to in a month from natural environmental sources, which is also known as background exposure. Doses from Bitewing or Panoramic films are even less, and the newest technology is reducing the doses still further.

Why do I have to have so many X-rays taken?

X-rays are very important tools, and there are various types that can be taken, each for a different purpose.



A Bitewing is an X-ray that captures a portion of the roots and the crowns of the upper and lower teeth.

They can be used to see, determine, or diagnose:

  • Decay between the teeth
  • Build-up of calculus (tartar) on the teeth
  • The condition of existing restorations (fillings, crowns, bridges, etc.)

Periapical (PA)

A Periapical X-ray is an image that captures the entire tooth.

They can be used to see, determine, or diagnose:

  • An abscess (infection) of the tooth
  • Condition of the surrounding bone
  • Condition of a root canal

Panoramic (Pan)

A Panoramic X-ray is a two-dimensional image that captures the entire mouth.

They can be used to see, determine, or diagnose:

  • The upper and lower jaw
  • All teeth (erupted and unerupted) and the jaw joint
  • Sinuses and the surrounding structures and tissues
  • Whether an extraction can be done in an office
  • The formation of teeth in children and the direction they are forming in
  • Tumors

Radiation Exposure

How much radiation exposure am I getting?

With digital X-rays, the exposure is extremely low, and therefore difficult to measure. However, they do require very minimal amounts of radiation. A lead apron with a thyroid collar is placed over the patient to reduce the level of exposure to the person’s body. This will not interfere with the process or compromise the quality of the image.

Also see: Digital Dental X-rays

 Do you have questions for our staff? Feel free to contact us.