When Should Children Get Dental X-rays?

Dental x-rays for children
15 Jun 2020

A child’s dental care is very important for their overall health. When you can teach your child excellent oral health habits from the start, they stand a better chance of enjoying exceptional dental health for life.

We provide family dental care with a focus on preventative treatments, which is dependent on regular checkups, dental cleanings, and diagnostics such as X-rays. Together, these three elements of care provide us with the insight we need to care for your child’s teeth proactively.

Often parents are uncertain if X-rays are required. In some cases, they might even be concerned X-rays are unsafe. Here, we explain when your child should get dental X-rays and also what we do to ensure the X-rays we take are perfectly safe.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Yes, X-rays are completely safe when taken in accordance with the Canadian Dental Associations recommendations. We take digital X-rays, which are not only faster but also emit 70% less radiation than film X-rays.

They provide a high-quality image that allows us to see more detail and identify less obvious issues as they unfold. We can then maintain digital records of your child’s teeth to help us track and compare their dental health to look for issues.

What type of X-rays are used?

Dentists use several types of X-rays to make a diagnosis, including:

1. Bitewing

These X-rays take one image of your child’s upper and lower teeth. The image will show the molars from the crown to the level of the bone. They help spot decay in between teeth, as well as signs of gum disease that could make changes to the jawbone.

2. Periapical

Periapical X-rays allow us to see all your child’s teeth in the upper or lower jaw, with a view of the entire tooth from the crown to the end of their root in the jawbone. These are ideal for spotting issues below the gumline, from abscesses to impacted wisdom teeth.


This is a view of the entire mouth, used to see the positions of unerupted teeth. It assists with tracking growth and development while also spotting issues such as abscesses. They are key in monitoring the development of your child’s wisdom teeth.

We determine which X-rays are required based on your child’s specific needs. We never take more X-rays than needed and keep track of each set so we can check their record to see when the next set of X-rays are required.

In cases where the X-rays are needed strictly for diagnosis purposes, we will explain why they are needed.

When are dental X-rays necessary?

Dental X-rays play an important role in detecting and diagnosing dental issues. Therefore, we will recommend X-rays if we feel we need to obtain information on your child’s dental health that can’t be detected through an oral exam alone.

Our first step will always be to examine your child’s teeth and only recommend X-rays should we detect issues, such as decay. That said, there are also guidelines provided when using X-rays as part of a preventative treatment plan. The schedule for kids is as follows:

1. 1 to 5 years of age

Before your child has permanent teeth, we will take bitewing X-rays of the back teeth. These X-rays should be taken every 6 to 12 months if we have detected tooth decay in your child, or if they have had cavities.

2. 6 to 12 years of age

At this age, your child will see their permanent teeth arrive, so we will often take bitewing X-rays of the back teeth, periapical X-rays of the front teeth and, in some cases, even a panoramic X-ray.

3. Teens

Once your child has all of their permanent teeth but no wisdom teeth, a selection of X-rays will be taken based on their history and the current state of their mouth. For some, this might include a full mouth series if we see evidence of widespread disease. For this age group, bitewing X-rays for high-risk teens would be taken every 6 to 18 months and every year to three years for kids with healthy teeth and gums.

We will provide a plan that makes sense for your child based on their history. As their dental health improves, the number of X-rays required might change. Our goal is to remain proactive while reducing exposure to radiation as much as possible.

What are the benefits of dental X-rays?

For the most part, dental X-rays are a valuable tool in addressing issues before they are allowed to progress too far. We can take a more proactive approach to your child’s dental health without putting them at risk due to radiation.

Every detail we can detect at a checkup provides us with insight into the care your child needs. Are they at higher risk due to decay? Are their permanent teeth developing properly? Are there any underlying issues we can’t see through their regular oral exams?

It’s a major part of preventative care and helps keep your child healthy without the need for costly, uncomfortable dental treatments down the road.

With regular X-rays, we simplify your child’s required dental treatments because we can predict issues based on what we see. Your child can forge a stronger, less fearful relationship with our team by avoiding long and uncomfortable dental treatments. We believe this is very important, as strong dentist/patient relationships based on trust help encourage ongoing dental care that keeps your child healthy.

To learn more about when children should get dental X-rays, call Guelph Family Dentistry at 888-588-1691 or contact us here.

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Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi
Dr. Omar Al-Azzawi

Dr. Omar got his BDS degree in 2002 from the University of Baghdad. He has also completed a master degree in Prosthetic Dentistry from the University of Malaya, Malaysia in 2009. Dr. Omar got his DDS in 2013 in Canada after passing the National Dental Examination Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. Read More

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