How often do you get xrays at the dentist's office?
December 17, 2004 7:12 AM   Subscribe

How often do you get xrays at the dentist's office? Once a year? Once every two years? [mi]

After an embarrassingly long absence from attending to my chompers, I now go to the DDS 4 times a year - more than most, I believe, but he scared me into it, and I always feel better afterwards. Still, is it really necessary to pony up an additional $300 to have the chompers nuked once a year in order for him to tell me that they are alright? He's a good dentist, but he has talked me into buying various goods and services in the past that I believe had as much to do with his profits as my dental well-being. I want to be a responsible caretaker for my teeth, but I don't want to spend unnecessary money.
posted by fingers_of_fire to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
I get yearly x-rays, but I only go twice per year. Maybe you could cut back on the visits if you want to save money? Unless, of course, you've got an ongoing issue that needs frequent attention.

It sounds like a second opinion might be in order.
posted by handful of rain at 7:25 AM on December 17, 2004

I get mine once a year. And where did that $300 come from? Mine are around $100 for a full x-ray of the teeth.
posted by eas98 at 7:49 AM on December 17, 2004

Your dentist charges $300 for a standard x-ray? Mine charges $40. I have it done once a year.
posted by naomi at 7:51 AM on December 17, 2004

The $40 xrays are probably insurance subsidized. Most insurance policies will only pay for one set of dental xrays per year. Also some kinds of xrays are more expensive than others, although the kind for regular dental checkups are not usually among them.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:11 AM on December 17, 2004

Nope, I don't have dental insurance.
posted by naomi at 8:15 AM on December 17, 2004

I'm without dental insurance, by the way, and living in NYC, where prices are often higher, although this seems a little extreme.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:35 AM on December 17, 2004

Get a new dentist. Seriously. If you have good home care and no underlying problems (for example, how are your gums?) you shouldn't need to get more than two cleanings a year. You also don't need yearly x-rays. Every other year should be fine unless there is a change in your situation. The best way to be a responsible caretaker for your teeth is to practice excellent home care. It goes a long way.
posted by Ruki at 8:59 AM on December 17, 2004

I go to the dentist twice a year; they x-ray once per year. And what possible reason is there for you to go more often than every 6 months? Sounds fishy to me...
posted by suchatreat at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2004

Yearly x-rays are pretty standard in my experience.

By the way, if anyone wants to recommend a dentist in NYC, email me. I have insurance.
posted by bingo at 9:54 AM on December 17, 2004

I got a full panoramic x-ray at my oral sugeon's a month ago. It cost 35$ and he gave me a print of it for free when I asked.
posted by Napierzaza at 10:37 AM on December 17, 2004

My dentist said, "At least every two years."
posted by cribcage at 11:18 AM on December 17, 2004

Here is a fee schedule from a company offering dental insurance (which would mean that they would be inclined to overstate fees in order to show maximum savings). Granted this plan is not offered in NYC, still:

X-Rays: Intraoral Complete Series - $130
X-Rays: Panoramic - $120
Regular Teeth Cleaning - $100

If you go here and enter your zipcode, the website will show you "Usual fees [, which] are the 50th percentile of fees as reported by NDAS 2002 for the zip codes in this area." The X-ray costs for a Brooklyn zipcode I used were about the same as above.

I second the motion that it's time to look for another dentist.
posted by WestCoaster at 11:34 AM on December 17, 2004

I go to my dentist once a year (he advised me not to come more often) and get x-rays every other year.
posted by busboy789 at 4:57 PM on December 17, 2004

There's nothing wrong with my teeth. I always decline the x-ray.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:31 PM on December 17, 2004

Woo Hoo! Long time lurker, first time poster! Thank you, Mr Haughey. Had to get that out of the way. Oh, and I *heart* Quonsar. Now, I'm done.

I've been a dental assistant coming up on 20 years. I know I've seen a dentist/Mefi member post so maybe he'll chime in as well.

In my experience, routine bite wing x-rays(bite-wing x-rays are taken with the teeth biting on a tab so they show teeth in occlusion and focus on the crowns and are cavity-detecting x-rays) are taken either on a yearly basis, or with good patient histories, can be backed off to once every two years. With patients with periodontal disease more frequent (and more in quantity) x-rays may be taken to assess condition of the bone support of the teeth.

It sounds like in this case, with the dentist recommending the more frequent cleanings that there is some pathology; periodontal disease. More frequent cleanings and x-rays are indicated, especially in the new phase of treatment. the dentist does not have recent history to compare with, therefore needs to be able to gauge your progress somehow. I'd suspect with improvement, x-rays will be backed off, and with more improvement, cleanings may as well. But I'd think he'd want a couple of years history at a minimum.

I know it's a pain, both literally and financially, but I don't see anything out of line with what he's doing at the moment. But you shouldn't feel uncomfortable with questioning the need for treatment, part of our job is to educate!
posted by Jazz Hands at 9:49 AM on December 18, 2004

I didn't address the part where you felt he was selling you goods and services you think you may not have needed. What kinds of things are you talking about? Bleaching? Flouride? Anti-bacterial mouthrinses? Electric toothbrush? Nightguard? Tooth-colored fillings? Crowns?
posted by Jazz Hands at 9:57 AM on December 18, 2004

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