Shiflett Family Dental

Dental X-Rays: How Often Should I Have Them and Are They Safe?

July 7, 2020
Posted By: Dr. Justin Shiflett
patient receiving X-Ray

We are often asked by patients if we can delay taking x-rays until their next visit or skip them altogether. When asked why, patients will voice concerns over radiation exposure, cancer history, or finances. These are all legitimate issues that deserve careful consideration. 

First, we will tackle the financial question. Are dental x-rays worth the financial investment, and do we take them just to make money? X-ray equipment is very expensive and taking x-rays makes up a very small portion of our overall revenue, so we don’t consider them a real money maker. Our main goal is to focus on prevention through digital x-rays at our office in Columbus, OH. 

At Shiflett Family Dental, we believe that regular digital radiographs will save our patients money in the long run. Making sure our patients have their x-rays allows us to monitor your dental health closely and catch problems early. Many times, we can alert patients to small cavities that do not need to be treated yet. Discussing changes in diet and oral hygiene can delay or even eliminate the need for a filling. Keeping tabs on your oral health can also make sure small issues stay small and avoid more expensive dental procedures like root canals, crowns, and implants.

It is important to note that Dr. Shiflett tailors how often x-rays are taken to each individual patient. In accordance with American Dental Association guidelines, patients with little or no history of dental disease receive radiographs at 12-24 month intervals. Patients who are at an increased risk for dental disease, or have a history of it, have x-rays taken every 6-12 months. In short, we will only take digital x-rays at our office in Clintonville as often as necessary. 

The last issue to discuss is the level of radiation exposure that comes with dental imaging. It is true that radiation exposure can lead to cancer, but just how much radiation does the dental office account for? Below you will find a couple of tables help put it in perspective. This data was compiled in a wonderful blog post by Dr. Steve Hendry ( His post highlights a lot of the misinformation and confusion surrounding dentistry, radiation, and cancer.

As you can see, dental radiographs make up a minuscule portion of the radiation we receive annually and throughout our lives. Everyday life, consumer products, and medical imaging far outweigh anything your dentist exposes you to.  So please, next time you visit your dentist, know that their recommendations for x-rays are truly with your health in mind.

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