Why do I need x-rays? I don’t want any radiation!
Despite our thorough exams, there are places in your mouth that we just can’t see without an x-ray. Between your teeth, where most cavities begin, it is extremely difficult to see decay until it has gotten extremely large.
By not getting radiographs, cavities sometimes continue to grow to the point where something breaks or begins to hurt. When this happens, a tooth may need more than a simple filling. Dental radiographs allow us to catch problems when they are small so that they can be treated more easily and inexpensively.
Radiographs or x-rays are not the only source of radiation exposure a person receives. In fact, most of the radiation a person receives during a year is from environmental sources.
We measure the radiation in units called microsieverts. Each dental radiograph accounts for about 5 microsieverts. For a comparison, eating one banana is about .1 microsieverts of radiation. The average person receives about 10 microsieverts over the course of a day just from the environment, and during a flight from New York to Los Angeles, you can expect 40 microsieverts. So, relatively speaking, dental radiographs are low in radiation, especially when you consider that a chest x-ray is 20 microsieverts, and a mammogram is 3000!