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dental xrays
December 30, 2008 11:58 AM   Subscribe

My dentist forces me to take x-ray every 6 month when i go for cleaning. Is that normal/standard ? I want to minimize x-ray radiation. I do not have any problems except i did a root canal some time back and it does not cause any problems.
posted by tom123 to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The x-ray radiation exposure is very, very minimal: it's equivalent to being alive on Planet Earth for a week or so; or going on a plane flight. And that's without the lead bib. Remember, there's always radiation around you, saturating you... at a very low level.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:04 PM on December 30, 2008


Yes, it's normal. No, you don't need it. Tomorrowful is correct: the radiation exposure is minimal, and poses little to no health risk. But there is a concrete and significant risk to your wallet. Dentists usually charge a pretty penny for x-rays, and you can totally get away with taking them every couple of years. He isn't exposing you to a health risk, but he is completely ripping you off.
posted by valkyryn at 12:06 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think mine does them every year. What Tommorrowful said is true, it's really a minuscule amount of radiation.
posted by sanka at 12:07 PM on December 30, 2008


I've had very, very serious jaw surgery issues in my past, that require very close supervision to ensure no recurrence of problems. We're talking a weird cyst that ballooned up and required the removal of five teeth on my lower jaw and a fair chunk of jawbone; a cyst that returned about five years after the initial surgery and required a bit more cutting as well, so it could come back at any time. My dentist only takes one x-ray a year.

I'd look around for a dentist more interested in your welfare and less interested in your wallet.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:21 PM on December 30, 2008


"Forces" you? Have you tried telling him "no x-ray today, doc..." ? It seems like you've shared some of your hesitancy about the procedure with him, and he talked you into it. But I bet there'd not be some huge scene or negative outcome if you directly told him you were not going to do it. (You're the final judge on your comfort level with that kind of directness, of course...)
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 12:24 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The standard for most dental insurance plans is to have 1 set of bitewing xrays on a yearly basis and then have the full mouth on a less frequent basis (every 4 or 5 years if I recall correctly.)
posted by slavlin at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2008


My insurance covers one set of bitewing xrays per year and one full mouth xray every 3 years. As has been said above, the radiation exposure is miniscule.

You are certainly free to refuse xrays from your dentist. You just have to be willing to say no.
posted by chiababe at 12:48 PM on December 30, 2008


I always refuse, but then I haven't had a cavity in many decades. If you get regular cavities, have had root canals etc. then perhaps you will want x-rays. I have to sign a little waiver form every time I refuse the x-rays.
posted by caddis at 1:07 PM on December 30, 2008


You should consider asking your dentist why he does it. If your insurance covers it, perhaps he thinks you may as well get your money's worth. If not, well, maybe he has a legitimate reason? If so, he should be able to explain it to you. If you don't feel comfortable asking your dentist these kind of questions, maybe you need a new dentist.
posted by MadamM at 1:16 PM on December 30, 2008


FWIW, my dentist knows that I and my family do not want excessive x-rays. Before taking any x-rays, we are asked whether it is ok and I have never felt in any way forced to submit to x-rays. The dentist I went to before my current one was very agitated when I refused x-rays on a six month basis for my 3 year old and made me sign a release absolving the practice of any responsibility for missed problems. I found a new dentist after that happened.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:24 PM on December 30, 2008


If you've already had a root canal, it's possible that you're more prone to cavities and the dentist wants to keep an eye out for that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:23 PM on December 30, 2008


You can definitely choose to avoid dental x-rays. Also, it may make you feel better to wear that lead apron thingie snugged right up over your thyroid and down over(y) your reproductive organs when you do get dental x-rays.

Although I know the exposure is minimal, I'm a little skeeved by x-ray exposure. I once had a bad fracture that required lots and lots and lots and lots of x-rays and MRIs and CTs and etc, and I feel like I got my lifetime share of vitamin-X that year (yeah, I know it's not cumulative, blah blah blah, but it's my body and if I feel skeevy I get to choose my own ways to un-skeeve).

So I personally ask for no x-rays unless I'm actively concerned about something. Remember that lots and lots of people in this world, most of your ancestors included, never had a dental x-ray, and the vast majority of them did just fine.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:44 PM on December 30, 2008


I have had the same dentist for nearly 20 years. On the initial visit I certainly agreed that x-rays were acceptable. During the 20 years I have said 'no' to x-rays more than once a year. In fact I sometimes go 2 years between x-rays. No x-ray predicted any tooth having a cavity that I did not know about before I had an exam. I suppose every individual is different. But I find no value in x-rays every 6 months.
posted by JayRwv at 4:16 PM on December 30, 2008


Zzzzzap..Ka-ching! Zzzzzap..Ka-ching!

...that's why the dentist likes to do x-rays as a matter of routine.

Decline and explain that it's not a matter of the expense, it's just that you're not comfortable with having so many and you don't feel that you should have to defend your opinion. He can't force you to do it and if he's smart he won't want to risk losing a regular client.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:47 PM on December 30, 2008


X-ray radiation dosage is pretty minimal. CT scan radiation is a lot more, though. Not directly related, just thought I'd add that....
posted by zachawry at 5:01 PM on December 30, 2008


If you don't like it, don't do it. But there is no harm in it, you get more xrays taking a plane ride. X-Rays are not like they used to be, especially if they use the computerized ones. The tech doesn't even have to leave the room for the newest ones.
posted by gjc at 5:33 PM on December 30, 2008


I think my dentist x-rays on average ever 3 years or so.

> Although I know the exposure is minimal, I'm a little skeeved by x-ray exposure. I once had a bad fracture that required lots and lots and lots and lots of x-rays and MRIs and CTs and etc, and I feel like I got my lifetime share of vitamin-X that year

I'd like to point out that MRI does not involve x-ray.
posted by HFSH at 6:25 PM on December 30, 2008


Thanks to all for your time in replying.
posted by tom123 at 10:26 PM on December 30, 2008


Remember that lots and lots of people in this world, most of your ancestors included, never had a dental x-ray, and the vast majority of them did just fine.

I'd like to point out that one of the reasons human life expectancy is much longer these days is because of modern dental care. OP already had one root canal--indicative of problems which, centuries ago, could have lead to abscess, system-wide infection, and death. Not to say that he necessarily needs X-rays every six months, but he should absolutely talk to his dentist and find out what the reason for the six month x-rays is before foregoing them completely.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:09 AM on December 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


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