How Often Should A Child's Teeth Be X-Rayed?

How Often Should A Child’s Teeth Be X-Rayed?

Team Pediatric Dentistry

As a parent, you want what’s best for your child’s health. However, determining what that is can sometimes be challenging.

For example, you may schedule regular visits with a pediatric dentist for your child, and you may know these visits can include having their teeth x-rayed to check for various dental issues that might otherwise be overlooked. That said, you might also worry that exposing your child to the radiation of an x-ray too frequently can harm them. This can make it difficult to know just how often your child’s teeth should be x-rayed.

It’s advisable to discuss this topic with your child’s dentist more thoroughly. They’ll answer any questions you may have and address your concerns. In the meantime, this overview will provide some basic guidance on the topic.

When to Schedule Your Child’s First Dental X-Ray: What the American Dental Association (ADA) Says

The ADA emphasizes that although dental radiographs expose patients to a low level of radiation, dentists have a responsibility to minimize this exposure as much as possible, in accordance with the ALARA Principle (As Low as Reasonably Achievable). This principle means that dentists should take all reasonable steps to reduce radiation exposure to their patient.

The purpose of a child’s first x-ray is usually to:

  • Ensure a child’s teeth are developing properly
  • Identify cavities, misalignments, dental decay, and similar issues

X-rays fall under the heading of preventative dental care. They serve to identify problems early so that they don’t worsen.

How Often to Have a Child’s Teeth X-Rayed Going Forward

Various factors can determine how often you should have your child’s teeth x-rayed after the first x-ray. They include the following:

  • Whether your child has a history of dental issues that need to be monitored
  • Your child’s age, as younger children, whose teeth are still developing, may need more x-rays than older children 
  • Whether your child has certain medical conditions, such as a cleft palate

Additionally, frequent x-rays may be necessary if your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment. This is key to monitoring whether the treatment is achieving the desired results.

All that said, the ADA’s general guidelines regarding the frequency of x-rays for children are as follows:

  • Depending on a child’s specific needs, a child should have their upper and lower back teeth x-rayed every 6 to 24 months
  • Panoramic x-rays, showing all teeth and a child’s jaw, may be necessary every three to five years

Per the ADA, if a child is “high-risk” due to having had cavities in their baby teeth, they should have their teeth x-rayed every 6 to 12 months. 

Concerned About Radiation During a Child’s X-Ray?

It’s understandable for parents to worry about the potential risks associated with exposing their children to excessive levels of radiation. That said, parents should also know that the amount of radiation to which a child may be exposed during an x-ray is quite low. It is generally agreed that the benefits of regular dental x-rays during childhood vastly outweigh any risks. When dental issues are identified and treated early, a child may be less likely to struggle with more significant oral health problems in the future.

Additionally, dentists take safety measures to protect children during x-rays, such as having them wear lead aprons. These measures serve to protect children from any harmful effects of the minimal radiation to which they may be exposed.

Again, if you ever have questions about these matters, you can (and should!) always discuss them with your child’s dentist. A professional can assess your child’s needs and help you determine how often your kid’s teeth should be x-rayed. They’ll ensure you’re confident you’re making the best decisions for your child’s health.

Contact a Pediatric Dentist Today

At ABQ Pediatric Dentistry, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, our goal is to help you ensure your child’s oral and dental health is optimal throughout their life. We’ll gladly answer any questions you may have about how often your child’s teeth need X-rays. Get started by contacting us online or calling us at 505-888-3520  to schedule an appointment today.