It is recommended that children should see the dentist by the time they reach one year of age. This gives them an opportunity to have a positive dental experience – and it also helps them to develop a solid foundation for a lifetime of oral health.
During these early visits, the child may or may not have erupted teeth – which means they are often more about getting comfortable with the office setting and allowing the dentist to monitor changes in the mouth than performing actual dental procedures.
So, what about x-rays? At what age should a child get their first dental x-ray?
The Importance of X-Rays in Pediatric Dentistry
Most children will have their first set of dental x-rays by the time they are five or six years of age, though they can prove to be very beneficial in treating patients of all ages. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) doesn’t list any specific guidelines for age recommendations but rather suggests that the dentists use their discretion when it comes to the personal dental treatment of each patient. They do, however, provide a list of guidelines for when x-rays should be used in treatment – focusing on the need rather than on the patient’s age, including:
- Dental trauma
- Baby bottle decay
- Aberrant eruption
- Unusual growth and development
- Family history of unusual growth and development
- Dental cavities – or a history of it
- Signs of periodontal disease
- Loose teeth
In other words, if a dental professional feels that it is necessary to take x-rays in order to provide the best course of treatment, then this can be done regardless of age.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe for Children?
Dental x-rays are so important for properly treating the dental needs of children as they are used as a diagnostic tool for things like decay, extra teeth, bone defects, tumors, and cysts, and for following up on prior procedures. They are only used when necessary and when beneficial to the patient.
Today’s dental x-rays are done digitally rather than by film, which significantly reduces radiation exposure. What’s more, is that the FDA monitors the x-ray equipment used by pediatric dentists and requires them to have specific settings that further reduce the radiation exposure.
Frequency of X-Rays
The American Dental Association (ADA) has set forth general guidelines as to how frequently x-rays should be taken – although it does depend heavily on several factors, such as the patient’s overall oral health, risk factors, and developmental stage. The idea is to use x-rays as a diagnostic tool when needed but otherwise use it as minimally as possible.
Children between one and five years of age should only have x-rays every 12 to 24 months unless dental concerns warrant it sooner. Children between six to 12 years of age and adolescents should have x-rays taken every 12 to 36 months, depending on oral health and level of concern.
If you are interested in learning more about digital x-rays or would like to schedule an appointment, contact DAFKO at 516-625-3806. Or, request an appointment online.