The X-Ray Files

During your dental visit, your dentist may order a dental x-ray to be taken. Dental x-rays are important diagnostic tools that allow visibility in between teeth and inside the gums. This helps dentists to see damage or disease that may not yet be visible on the teeth and to diagnose what may be causing your symptom or complaint. Cavities, decays, bone loss, cysts, abscesses and other gum disease can be screened by the dentist with the help of x-rays. Oftentimes, when tooth decay is already visible to the eye, a large portion of its natural structure has already been destroyed, most often irretrievably. X-rays thus allow dentists to treat dental problems early, minimize the treatments required and ultimately save the teeth. 

X-rays also show the number of wisdom teeth present, missing and impacted teeth and in some cases, if there are excess teeth. This information can prevent a whole host of dental problems and may clue in your dentist if orthodontic treatment is necessary.

Given the importance of x-rays, can patients refuse them to be taken?

The simple answer is yes. Every dental treatment and procedure should have the patient’s consent. So yes, a patient can very well refuse x-rays to be taken. However, since some x-rays are absolutely necessary before a dentist can correctly diagnose or treat a problem, it may be dangerous or impossible for the dentist to move forward with a treatment. A dentist may refuse to treat at all, or to delay the treatment until an x-ray is provided. In most situations, delaying dental treatment can mean more painful and expensive procedures down the line.

It is important to go to a dentist that you trust. If you don’t have one yet, seek recommendations from friends and family, or check out reviews online. Seek out a dentist that you feel is honestly looking after your dental health, and not just to earn a commission. Note down all the dental x-rays you have taken and ask for a personal copy. If you’re seeing a new dentist, check whether your most recent x-ray copies can still be used. It is wiser not to skimp on diagnostic tools such as x-rays, but check out if you can get discounts from any promo packages being offered instead. Maintaining good oral health can seem expensive but your dentist should be able to provide you with options and possibly work around your budget.


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