Dental Exam and X-Rays for Kids

Published on September 16, 2021, Updated on September 17, 2021

Most children have received their first dental x-rays by the age of 5 or 6, when their permanent teeth begin to erupt, despite the fact that there are no set standards for receiving the first x-ray. However, if a kid is at high risk of tooth decay or displays indicators of other potential issues, a dentist may order early x-rays. Dental x-rays can be taken as often as twice a year or as infrequently as every few years.


Why Would a Pediatric Dentist Take X-rays?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has no specific age recommendations for dental x-rays. According to the Guideline on Prescription of Dental Radiographs for Infants, Children, Adolescents, and Persons with Special Health Care Needs, diagnostic investigations should be focused on the needs of each patient, not just their age.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) provides guidelines for when dental x-rays for a child patient are necessary, regardless of age. The advice is based on a number of factors, some of which are stated below:

  • A history of dental caries, or cavities — If the teeth can’t be inspected visually or with a probe, posterior bitewing x-rays every 6 to 12 months.
  • Trauma or toothache
  • There is a family history of unique dental problems.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Loose teeth
  • Unexplained bleeding or sensitivity
  • Check for bottle mouth syndrome or baby bottle decay
  • Teeth with uncommon traits, such as aberrant eruption, growth/development, color, or other variables
  • Determine the skeletal maturity of the underlying bones.
  • Erosion
  • Swelling

 Learn When do children lose their teeth?

What Will my Child Experience When Her Mouth is X-rayed?

For children, the x-ray procedure is absolutely painless. They will remain seated throughout the imaging procedure and will not be in any discomfort. The amount of time needed is determined by the type of x-rays collected. Contact us to talk with a professional member of our staff about children’s dental x-rays at our office.


Are Dental X-Rays Safe for Children?

Children’s dental X-rays are important for detecting any abnormalities that are buried beneath the surface of the tooth enamel and below the gum line. However, many parents are concerned about their children’s safety. The good news is that dental X-rays are now safer than ever before thanks to advances in technology.

Digital X-rays have essentially replaced traditional film X-rays in many dental practices. They are safer than traditional film X-rays since they produce around 80% less radiation. In reality, the amount of radiation emitted by a set of digital X-rays is lower than the amount of radiation humans are exposed to in a single day.

The term X-ray refers to a type of electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate human tissue yet is not visible to the naked eye. The amount of radiation (energy) absorbed is determined by the density of the tissue, which is how X-ray photographs (radiographs) are made. For example, X-ray energy passing through a cavity will result in a darker image on the film or sensor.

An expert dentist will always assess the risks against the benefits when choosing whether dental X-rays are necessary for your child, taking into account the youngster’s unique circumstances. Dental X-rays are never used indiscriminately, especially with children, because they have the potential to cause cancer, albeit a minimal risk.

Young individuals are more radiosensitive than adults, and the FDA, which oversees X-ray equipment, understands that children’s exposure to X-rays is a source of concern for parents. The FDA requires that X-ray machines include special settings for children that reduce radiation exposure.

In current dentistry, digital X-ray equipment and techniques allow for the administration of extremely low amounts of radiation, and health professionals, including dentists, are recommended to adhere to the ALARA principle on radiation dosage – As Low as Reasonably Achievable.

X-rays are never taken routinely by skilled pediatric dentists; instead, they adhere to the American Dental Association (ADA) and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) X-ray recommendations. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics both urge that X-rays be used only after a clinical evaluation of the patient and a review of their medical history, including previous X-ray use and frequency.


  • The Selection of Patients for Dental Radiographic Examinations – X-ray
  • ALARA and radiation safety by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Safety guidelines
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