This can be a very controversial topic. There are some people and doctors who would say that dental xrays are not necessary as often as they’re being taken. On the other hand, there are people and doctors who say they’re not as harmful as people are led to believe and it’s better to be proactive with your dental health instead of waiting until you have a problem to address it.
The obvious issue is radiation. While the amount of radiation used for dental xrays is small, some doctors will say that radiation is still radiation and it should be used only as needed. A few decades ago the radiation level used for dentistry was significantly higher. This was partially due to the size of the cone in the xray head. Back then, the cone would cover most of the head and neck. New advances in dentistry have gotten the size of the cone down to less than 3 inches. This is giving a more concentrated doses, protecting your body from unnecessary radiation scatter. Several studies have shown that the amount of radiation from dental xrays is equal to or very close to the amount of radiation you get from the sun naturally in one day. Even with this miniscule amount used, most dental offices still use a lead vest or apron as an extra precaution to protect vital organs.
Currently there are no studies that prove any effects of low-dose radiation. This is what is used in dentistry. This is mostly because radiation exposure problems are usually cumulative. Meaning the more you’re exposed, the more likely you are to end up with concerning medical symptoms and side effects. At this point in time, there are very strict rules and regulations set in place to help keep the population as safe as possible.
The frequency that doctors prescribe xrays will vary between each patient. Ultimately, the decision is yours. If you’re seeing a doctor you trust and are receiving all the necessary information, you should be able to make an educated decision on whether or not you should get the xrays, or skip them at your next 6 month check up. With all the evidence and studies on this topic at this time, it seems to appear that the pros significantly outweigh the cons.