The Other Value of Dental X-Rays

Tomorrow, Friday, November 8th, marks the anniversary of the discovery of X-Ray by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. This is a special opportunity to increase public awareness of diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy.

“I don’t WANT any X-rays”, “I don’t NEED X-rays”, and “I’m OPPOSED to the exposure to radiation”. These are just a few of the reasons why people refuse recommended dental X-rays.

Dental X-rays, or radiographs, are arguably the most rejected medical screening and diagnostic procedures in healthcare. When a physician or other healthcare provider orders a lab test or imaging procedure, there is no debate or discussion about the necessity. It is typically just a matter of when it will be done. Though dental X-rays help to provide a full diagnostic evaluation of a patient’s oral health and treatment needs, many patients still decline dental X-rays.

Along with the diagnostic benefits of having dental X-rays, there is another purpose that they serve that is often overlooked. Dental records, and specifically X-rays, can serve as a means for identifying human remains. Having a series of full-mouth X-rays every five years provides a comprehensive and up-to-date dental record that can be used as a means of identification.

Though it is not something that we typically plan for or hope to ever need; the benefits of dental X-rays greatly exceed the objections that individuals might have to them. Think of this benefit the next time you are asked to have a dental X-ray.