Many people require regular X-rays to keep track of their oral health. How often should X-rays be done? The answer depends on your medical and dental history and the current condition of your mouth. Some people may need X-rays as often as every six months. People who visit the dentist regularly and have excellent oral health may need X-rays only every three years or so.
To see how often you or your family members might need X-rays, check out this chart. It is based on information from the American Dental Association and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Who needs more frequent or regular X-rays?
- Children and teenagers — Children and teens who have a history of many cavities may need X-rays every six months or every year, depending on age. So may those who have a high risk of decay for other reasons. X-rays also help to keep track of tooth development.
- Adults with many fillings, crowns, bridges or other restorations — X-rays help the dentist find decay beneath your fillings and crowns or in new places.
- People with periodontal (gum) disease — X-rays can reveal signs of bone loss. If this has happened, then you may need periodontal (gum) surgery.
- People with dry mouth, also called xerostomia —Saliva helps keep your mouth and teeth healthy by regulating the acid levels (pH) in the mouth. In a dry mouth, the pH decreases. This causes the minerals in the teeth to break down, resulting in more cavities. Many medicines can cause dry mouth. It also can be a result of cancer treatment or a long-term disease.
- Smokers — Smoking increases the risk of bone loss around the teeth and periodontal disease.
- Users of chewing tobacco — Chewing tobacco is sweetened with sugars and can lead to more cavities.