Yes. Radiographs, commonly known as x-rays, are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. X-rays are taken on children to check the health of primary and permanent teeth. X-rays also are used to find extra or missing permanent teeth (supernumeraries) and cysts. We can also see if teeth are coming in correctly and if they are in the right spot.

I recommend taking x-rays starting on children at age 3. Usually the first x-rays are taken of the upper (maxillary) and lower (mandibular) front (anterior) primary teeth. These x-rays allow us to see not only the primary incisors but the permanent incisors developing in the bone.

Traditional bitewing x-rays are taken on the right and left back (posterior) primary teeth. A bitewing x-ray allows us to see in-between the back teeth. Bitewing radiographs are important because decay often begins between the posterior teeth. X-ray are repeated either every 6 months or every year depending on your child’s risk of cavities.

A pantograph or panorex is taken on most children starting at age 7. A panorex is a large x-ray that allows us to view all of the child’s primary and permanent teeth as well as the surrounding bone. We are able to count all permanent teeth developing, check for potential impacted teeth, and check for cysts. The panorex is taken every 3-5 years or more often if your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment or there is another concern that needs to be monitored.

In our office, we offer digital x-rays. These are taken using an electronic sensor instead of the traditional film. By using digital x-rays, the amount of radiation your child is exposed to is reduced by 80% compared with traditional film x-rays. Additionally, you will not have to wait for the x-rays to develop—the electronic system takes less than 2 seconds to show the image on the monitor, which saves you time during your appointment.

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