X-Ray of Kid’s Teeth – Is It Safe? Why is It Necessary?


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Dr Pooja Langote
Pooja has done BDS. She is a dentist by profession and is devoted to creating bright smiles all around. She is an intense reader and is vibrant at heart. She aspires to become a healthcare administrator.

Parents are mostly concerned about the safety of dental X-rays for their kid. But the good part is that digitalization of the world has also replaced the traditional x-ray films by digital x-ray machines which are safe for the children.

Depending upon the area of investigation various dental x-ray technique such as periapical x-ray, bitewing radiograph, etc. are available.


The dental x-ray is the investigating method for the issues that are hidden beneath the tooth or gum and are not visible to naked eyes. X-ray is an essential investigation as it helps to diagnose and decides the treatment plan of the disease.

Hence, dental X-rays are mandatory for specific dental issues such as dental caries, tooth fracture, periapical infection, etc.

Usually, children are anxious and show uncooperative behavior for dental treatment. Hence ‘tooth picture’ is the blanket term used to convince the kid.

Out of the excitement of seeing their tooth’s photograph, kids cooperate a dentist for the x-ray procedure.

Let us move further to know more about dental x-ray for your kid.

When to expect the x-ray procedure?

The dentist does not advise x-rays on every regular dental check-up. Your kid might require x-ray in certain situations such as cavitation, tooth fracture, periapical infection, etc.

Children need x-ray examination more often because they have a smaller tooth size and hence caries can easily reach dentin. Dentist advice x-ray, depending upon the kid’s individual need.

Usually, in kids, primary teeth erupt at the age of 3 to 4 years. At this point in time, the need for x-ray increases to diagnose dental caries between teeth. However, this age and dental condition vary with different kids.

X-rays are taken in kids if there is a higher risk of tooth decay. This is done to keep track of variation in dental condition and health of kid’s teeth.

Is it safe for your kid?

Nowadays we have digital x-rays almost everywhere. These x-ray machines are safe for your kid as the radiation exposure of these devices is minimal.

Digital x-ray machine emits 80% less radiation compared to traditional x-ray machines.

X-rays are the electromagnetic radiation that passes through the tooth, bone, and tissue and produces the image.

The intensity and exposure time of radiation depends on the density of the organ. As the dentist of kid’s bone is lesser than the adults bone, kid requires minimal x-ray exposure. (1)

A pediatric dentist will take all safeguarding measures such as the use of thyroid collar, lead apron, a digital sensor to save your kid from unnecessary radiation exposure.

X-rays get stored, and they pass through your child’s body causing no damage to your kid.

Benefits of x-ray

X-rays are the best diagnostic and play a significant role in the diagnosis of teeth and gum related issues. The various advantages of x-ray investigation are –

  • X-rays help the dentist to evaluate the extent of caries. For the treatment of the carious lesion, its extent is significant because it decides whether the child needs pulp therapy or a simple restorative procedure such as pulp capping.
  • Fracture line is seen clearly on the X-ray. Many times, kids get their teeth or jaw fractured accidentally. If you kid’s tooth gets cracked, we can not always see the complete fractured line clinically. In such cases, dental x-ray helps us to evaluate the extent of fractured.

Likewise, in the case of jaw fracture, the fracture line is evaluated with the help of x-rays.

  • Sometimes, the permanent tooth fails to erupt on its time and absence if tooth for the longer time becomes the point of concern for the parents. In such a situation, a dental x-ray taken at the site of missing tooth helps to detect the eruption or developmental stage of a tooth.
  • Dental x-rays help to detect the impacted tooth. (2)
  • Periapical infection is not visible to naked eyes and can be seen clearly with the help of the x-rays.
  • An abnormal growth, such as a cyst, is best evaluated on the x-rays. X-ray gives the complete idea about the exact location, size, extent lesion.
  • The dental x-ray also helps to determine the need for orthodontic treatment in a child. (3)
  • In case of trauma to the child’s mouth, an x-ray is advised by the dentist as they show the extent of the damage and formulate the best plan of action for treatment or restorative dental work, if necessary.

Many times, diagnosis becomes difficult without the x-ray investigation. The undiagnosed condition gets worse, if not treated on correct time.

Types of x-ray

Pedodontist advises the x-ray depending upon the areas need to be seen in the x-ray. Most common x-ray types used for children are –

1. Periapical x-ray

Periapical X-rays are used primarily for tooth investigation and the area in focus is the tooth with its periapical region.

X-rays show the entire tooth is area beyond the tooth apex. Periapical x-rays help for the examination of the tooth, interdental bone, periapical area, and periodontium.

2. Bitewing x-ray

Bitewing x-ray shows the upper and lower teeth in a single film and the area in focus is the interdental region. Bitewing x-ray helps to evaluate the decay between two teeth and height of the interdental bone (4).

The frequency of bitewing x-ray in children depends upon the kid’s decay risk and is about 6-12months.

3. Panoramic x-ray

The panoramic x-ray is the extraoral x-ray which shows all the teeth, jaw, temporomandibular joint, and surrounding structures.


Regular Panoramic x-ray is taken around at the age of 6-7years as during this age permanent teeth start to erupt. Hence, dentist check for the correct development of all permanent teeth, missing or extra teeth, the health of the temporomandibular joint, proper angulation of erupting teeth as well as for any cysts, growths and other bone problems.

Over to you

A dental x-ray is friendly and beneficial as the earlier diagnosis of dental issues is essential for your kid’s oral health.

Digital X-rays has no harm to kids and are significant in preventing the extensive damage of the teeth and for the earlier diagnosis. Ultimately, Dental x-ray gives us the ability to keep your child healthy.


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