Patients are always concerned about xrays. Rightfully so! You are concerned about radiation. Concerned about cost. Will your insurance cover them all? All great questions.
When we welcome a new patient to our practice we do a through investigation of your insurance benefit plan to see what services you are eligble for. We are sensitive to a budget and that many patients have a benefit plan, they want to use it! We try our hardest to help your get every single benefit you are paying for by maximizing your insurance options. We will not over prescribe and take xrays just because we can and we do not under prescribe based only on insurance coverage. We are not a cookie cutter office and every patient, although technically being seen for the same procedure, the new patient exam and xrays, is treated individually. Our presciption for xrays is customized to the specific patient, needs, concerns and what our professional recommendation is for you at that time.
That being said, we always start with our baseline image, our Panoramic image. We call it a Pano for short. It is not our most descriptive xray but gives us an overview of your oral condition with limited radiation. Dr. Fufidio reviews this image immediately and interprets it with you. From there she lets you know which xrays are indeed neccessary after that.
Many times the remainder xrays can be grouped into a couple categories: Many times we can perform a series of 4 "screening" xrays. These four are updated at your check up appointments. These are most telling of cavities between the teeth. Those that surface from not flossing. Sometimes we will perform the series of the 4 xrays we just mentioned and 1 or 2 additional xrays of different angles of key teeth. These are ones that have had root canals or large fillings and/or crowns. These xrays are to monitor for re-infection or early signs of infection. For the patient that has not seen a dentist in a long time we are required to take our full series of radiographs. In our office we do this in 18 quick xrays. These different angles show us the bone levels, different surfaces, the entire root and required by some insurances if we are asking them to help offset the cost of dental treatment that needs to be done. They need to review the treatment and determine your eligibility just as we need the data to diagnose the treatment needed. The radiation in our office is minimal because we have the most up to date technology and we monitor our exposure and a whole series takes about 5 total minutes. The total radiation daily is equivalent to watching tv so no need to worry about exposure!
Former x-rays can be sent to us. If not diagnostic or of the quality we need to evaluate you properly, or even if out of date, we will take our own for our records. Although they are technically our records, should you move or need a copy we are very happy to provide you with that.
Pregnant patients can have xrays as well. Limited ones and we would prescribe these in emergent visits and limited xrays on an as needed basis.
So, in short, you do need xrays. Good ones and current ones. They need to be updated regularly. The ADA is recommended every 6 months now for high risk patients! We are not performing them this often on 99% of our patients as we perform the best possible visual examination at your 6 month appointment to avoid overexposure but may follow suit if we see fit, again, on an indivdiual, patient to patient basis!