I am fascinated by the number of parents who say they don’t want our team to take radiographs (or x-rays) on their children. We had 2 such incidences in our office this past week alone, so it prompted me to write about it. Of course, once I explained why we are taking the radiograph and the potential risks, both parents accepted to proceed.

As a father of two, I know I want what’s best for my children. I’ve never questioned a physician’s request for a chest x-ray for my child, or a leg x-ray to check for fracture. So why do so many parents question dental radiographs? Is it because of the cost? I wonder. I hope not. Is it because they don’t recognize the value? Maybe.

Orthodontists, as ALL other health care professionals, subscribe to the ALARA principle. ALARA is an acronym for As Low As Reasonably Achievable when it comes to x-ray exposure for our patients. That means that we take radiographic images only when necessary. Radiographs provide a wealth of diagnostic information that helps us determine the proper course of action for a child.

The typical radiograph we take for our patients is called a panoramic radiograph or Panorex. (See illustration). It gives us an overall view of all the teeth, both erupted and un-erupted; it allows us to detect missing or extra teeth; and alerts us to the possible presence of abnormalities. It also helps us eliminate potentially big issues such as impacted (stuck) teeth.

Panorex radiograph showing child’s mouth

Best of all, compared to medical radiographs, the x-ray dose is minimal. A Panorex generates 0.01 microsieverts (mSv) of effective dose. In contrast, a chest x-ray is 10 times the dose! An abdominal x-ray is .60 mSv, or 60x the dose of a Panorex! Yet no one would question the need for one if a physician ordered it. From our natural surrounding we annually get approximately 2.4 mSv or 240 times as much as a panoramic x-ray. So as you can see, panoramic radiographs provide great bang for the buck, so to speak, as far as diagnostic information compared to radiographic dose; and they are an essential and integral part of our examinations.

At Palermo Orthodontics, we only use digital radiography. Digital radiography allows us to lower the radiographic exposure to our patients many fold compared to conventional film radiographs. Best of all, we do not charge for our radiographs or our consultations. It would be our pleasure so see your child at our office and help him or her achieve a big smile with small radiation!
Happy smiles to you,
Dr. Pourang Rahimi