It is nearly impossible to diagnose the presence of decay between the teeth without using dental radiographs (X-Rays). By using radiographs, small areas of decay can be identified before the decay process endangers the life of the tooth. There are two types of dental radiographs, digital and conventional (analog). The newer forms of radiographs are digital, which allow faster observation of the images with very low radiation. We use digital radiology here at Appleton Family Dentistry.
Some people are worried about the radiation used in dentistry. Dental radiographs use a very small amount of radiation and it is directed exactly to the site where it is needed. The amount of radiation required for one dental radiograph (bitewing or periapical) is about the same amount of radiation you receive by standing in a parking lot in the sun for a few minutes, or riding on an airplane for a few minutes. The fear of dental radiographs, which are used with caution and good judgement, is unfounded. The extremely minimal amount of radiation present in dental radiographs is far outweighed by the diagnostic advantage provided by the radiographs.
We will periodically ask our patients to take radiographs in order to properly diagnose oral diseases. The frequency of these radiographs will be determined by professional judgement and the standard of care within our profession. Currently, it is standard to take bitewing radiographs everyone to two years and panoramic radiographs every three to five years, depending upon the health of the patient, their periodontal health and their resistance to decay. There are always exceptions to the rule, and we certainly take age and history of previous radiation exposure into account when making these decisions.
Our goal is to prevent large problems from occurring with your teeth and the provide the best care we can for you at a reasonable cost. That can only be achieved by early detection of problems. If you would prefer to refuse radiographs, you may be better served at another practice. We understand that every patient has a choice to make in the matter of treatment and radiographs, but sometimes a refusal interferes with our ability to diagnose. For that reason, continued refusals could result in dismissal from our practice. Not only is refusal an ethical dilemma for us, but it can be a legal one as well. Failure to diagnose as a result of failure to look can be considered supervised neglect.
We strive to provide dentistry here at Appleton Family Dentistry that is consistent with or better than the standard of care within our profession. We sincerely hope that is what you expect of us.