Dental X-Rays

Parent Q&A

  • Hi all, I'm looking for a Bay Area dentist who is willing to do a basic cleaning without requiring x-rays. One of my parents recently died of cancer and I'd like to save my x-ray exposure for the times I really need it, and not just as a "routine" practice to accompany cleanings. I have no dental problems; I'm just overdue for a professional cleaning. Two different dental offices I've called so far are not willing to schedule a basic cleaning unless I consent to (and of course pay for) "routine" x-rays with the cleaning. I had panoramic x-rays done two years ago for wisdom tooth extraction and would like to wait until there is a similar need before I get more.

    My husband said he didn't want xrays at his last dentist appointment and they had no problem with that. Select Dental in north San Leandro. Fabulous dentist, Dr. Mola.

    Michael Young in Albany would most likely go with no X-rays if you requested it. I may have gotten an X-ray when I first started, I can't recall. I do know he does not routinely do X-rays. He is also a great dentist and a nice person to boot. He does his own cleanings and I would estimate is more conservative in his approach to intervention overall.

    I'm with you on this!

    My son is 7, we recently went to Pediatric Choice, SF... I simply say: "No Thank you, to X-Rays!". They were fine with it.

    It's worked everywhere except at UCSF dental - where the Dentist told me "Good luck with that!" I walked out:)


Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Pediatric Dentists who does not require XRAYS

Feb 2016

Hi everyone! I am not 100% sure how to post on here and receive messages so please email me if you can! I need referrals to a pediatric dentist who does not require X-RAYS. My daughter is 4 years old and has never been. It's time to take her but I don't want X-RAYS until she is older. We live in San Francisco but are open to driving anywhere really to find a dentist who respects this. I also need an adult dentist for myself who does not push X-RAYS. I also want someone who does digital X-Rays when they do use them. Thanks so much. April

Hi! We see Cynthia Scipioni in Berkeley, on telegraph near the Whole Foods. She's awesome. I have been seeing her since probably 2009 before I had my child and now she sees my son. She has not once mentioned doing X-rays on him and he's now almost 4. For adults like me with good dental health I only have X-rays done every other year. She's not a pediatric dentist but can see the whole family which I really appreciate. Ndramali

Kids dentist who uses digital x-rays?

Feb 2010

My 4-year-old is due for dental x-rays and I'm wondering if any pediatric dentists in Berkeley (or nearby) use digital x-rays? Ours does not. concerned about radiation

Hi, I just took my daughter to the dentist last week and they did digital x-rays. She sees Dr. Leticia Mendoza-Sobel at her practice Piedmont Pediatric Dentistry . She has a partner, Dr. Negron, who shares the practice. The office staff is great, always really friendly, and we've been very happy that we found her. Good luck in your search. Claire

Seeking HMO Dentist who takes Digital X-rays

Oct 2009

It is easy to find dentists on the Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO network. It is easy to find dentists who take digital x-rays. However, finding a dentist that offers BOTH takes a lot of calling! Does anyone have a suggestion?

Try Dr. Melinda Chan on College Ave--A wonderful dentist. She has all the state-of-the-art equipment and only does digital x-rays. The office number is: 654-2226 lyra

Dr Terlet in Berkeley uses digital x-rays and she's a very nice, friendly dentist, too.

Dental x-rays, pressure from my dentist

Jan 2009

My dentist is pressuring me to get dental x-rays according to a schedule, and I don't want to be pressured. I was told I might have to go elsewhere for dental care if I wouldn't follow the schedule. My teeth are in good health, and I would get x-rays if there was a problem and sometimes just to have a look, but not as often as the dentist would like. It seems to me, as an analogy, that if you don't get a mamogram on schedule, your ob/gyn will still take care of you and do pap smears, etc. I feel I have the right to choose to get diagnostic x-rays or not, and still get dental care. Does anyone have experience with this, and know what options there are? anon

You have the right to refuse the X-rays. The dentist has the right to ask you to leave the practice if you refuse his/her recommendations. In your example, the OB-gyn could in fact ask you to leave the practice if you didn't get a mammogram, but they don't. I'm not sure if there are any laws around this for remote rural locations where there are no alternatives, but here in the Bay Area there's no shortage of dentists. So if the dentist is serious about requiring you to get the X-rays, then your choice is to adhere to his/her schedule or switch dentists. I'd think you might want to anyway so that you're with someone whose approach suits your preferences better. doctor who doesn't fire patients, but could

I also refuse X-rays based on my dentist's preferred schedule (and for my kids as well) - my dentist and my children's dentist is okay with it and have only semi-hassled me, so I would suggest finding a dentist that respects your medical choices if your current one won't. X-ray - no thanks!

How do you know that your teeth are in perfect health? No pain is certanly not an indicator of that! Even a dentist needs a panoramic film (almost no radiation compared to regular X-rays) to detect cavities in odd-to-see places. I am an assertive patient. I know my teeth by numbers and know where I have crowns or 1 to 3-surface fillings. I prefer the pro-active over the defensive approach. The co-pay for a 1-surface filling is so much smaller than a 3-surface filling. In the end, a defensive approach is going to cost you a lot more. A panoramic film of your teeth is in order every 2 years and covered by insurance. X-rays contribute to cancer, so the whole mammogram thing can cause what it aims to detect - but panoramic film does not promote cavities or cancer. Get a dentist who invested into his business and changed to panoramic film. Anonymous

it seems to me that this dentist isn't a good fit for you, and likewise you for him/her. while it is completely within your rights as a patient to refuse care/recommendations, it is also understandable that your dentist has a certain way of doing things too. he/she is just uncomfortable not having xrays, for whatever reason. why not just find another dentist and be done with it? you've already been told that you might have to seek care elsewhere, so a parting seems inevitable. medical professional

Hey its 2009 and they have these fancy new things called ''Digital X rays''. There is very little radiation associated with them. You will need to change dentists and find a more modern practice. Progress is good! Been There

I just tell the dentist I may be pregnant,even though I know I am not. This has worked for me for over a year. Ellen

There is a range of opinions about what constitutes appropriate and necessary dental care, and mine is extreme but deeply-felt. I think the whole culture of dental care has gone crazy. When I was little, we were told to see a dentist every one or two years. Then the ''advice'' became yearly, then every six months...and now it is every four months! We keep hearing that terrible, invisible things can be happening to our teeth that only an expensive dentist with expensive procedures can see. My bull**** meter goes into action. I didn't see a dentist once for ten years and nothing happened. I know lots of people who don't go to the dentist unless they have a problem, and who find this very satisfactory. The idea that you would have wonderful pink shiny gums on the surface and something dastardly lurking under them sounds...manipulative. If you eat well, avoid sugary food, clean your teeth and gums conscientiously, there is no reason they shouldn't be healthy. By all means we can ask for help when we have trouble. But the ''pre-emptive'' visits we are pressured into have gotten way out of hand. Ah, now all the dentists and their customers can write and say how wrong I am. It Works for My Family

Dentist says 8-year-old should have x-rays

June 2007

I tend to follow most Western medicine recommendations, but I have a problem with the 'need' to take dental x-rays of kids starting at age 5. I just can't see that it's so safe to expose the kids to any radiation, and I guess I'm wondering whether the benefit is worth the cost. However, it's now common dental practice and at my child's most recent check-up, the dentist told me he would not provide care to my child anymore if I didn't get the dental x-ray. My child is now 8. The dentist also said he doubted I would find any dentist who would agree to provide care. Is this true? Is everyone out there getting dental x-rays, or are there dentists who will provide cleaning and check-ups w/o these? My child has never had a cavity or other dental problem. Thanks. anon

My daughter had a bad cough recently and her pediatrician recommended a chest xray. When I asked about radiation exposure she said the radiation exposure my daughter would get from a cross country airplane trip was 20x the radiation exposure she would get from an xray. I personally feel a little less paranoid about xrays after hearing that (but slightly more worried about plane travel!)

I have two dentists in the family. They're too busy to be trying to scam insurance companies. I'd go ahead with an xray. AG

One thing to keep in mind: a few cross-country airline flights (not sure of the exact number -- maybe 2 roundtrip trips?) and you will have exposed your kid to more radiation than an x-ray. Radiation is all around us in our modern world, and a dental x-ray is not all that high a dose. And it does serve a purpose -- it helps the dentist know what's going on under the gums. anon

Dental x-rays don't actually emit much radiation compared to other everyday sources of naturally-occurring radioactive materials. Here's one source of information: and you can google for plenty of others.

Dental x-rays at age 5 are important because it gives the dentist information not only about potential cavities between teeth that are not visible, but also shows the emerging permanent teeth. It's good to know whether teeth are missing or crowding will be a problem.

That said, I'm sure you can find a dentist that will treat your kids without x-rays. I'm just posting to make sure you have all the facts before you worry yourself needlessly. science mama

I don't know if you can find any dentists who will treat your child without doing x-rays, there may be some out there. However, no dentist can evaluate the development of permanent teeth, jaw growth and the health of the baby teeth without x-rays. You may not be aware that the x irradiation dose in a dental series is less than your child gets by being in the sun for a day. Sun blocks do not block x-radiation.

You take your child to the dentist because you are concerned for the health of his teeth. My recommendation is that you allow the dentist to properly care for him per his expertise and recommendations. Elizabeth

try a dentist from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT):

my kids are still younger (and as yet not xrayed), so no personal experience, but i know that ''Biological Dentists'' seek to limit harm, and do a lot of removel of mercury amalgam fillings. they'd be your best bet to find a dentist who understands wanting to limit harm to your kids. and you could try mothering magazine's dental forum for the ''crunchy'' outlook on dental concerns: concerned about xrays, too.

Do kids really need mouth x-rays?

Jan 2005

Most dentists seem to recommend dental x-ray for my kids every one to two years. That sounds like a lot of radiation to me especially when they are done as routine and not because of any specific reasons. I am seeing several doctors myself due to a benign tumor on one of my salivary glands. In each case, I was asked whether I had extensive dental x-ray or other radiation therapy done in the vicinity of my tumor. That reinforces my suspicion that routine dental x-ray is not that good for you. I would like to hear more opinions. I wonder if most dentists do routine dental x-ray on their own children this frequently. anon

My (adult) dentist has begun using phosphorescent storage plates instead of standard X-ray film. It's a new technology that only requires a tiny fraction of the radiation that is used to shoot a standard X-ray. I don't know which pediatric dentists are using this system, but if you're concerned it might be worth checking around. heidi

every time I have taken my 5 year old to the dentist, they insist on taking x-rays of her mouth. Each time, I have refused. The last time I took her the dentist told me they were necessary to see if there were any problems with her adult teeth forming. I asked her what could be done about it at this point and she said she would refer me to a specialist to 'monitor' my daughter's progress. The whole thing sounds like an insurance rip off to me, so I have changed dentists. no more radiation!

I am a dentist, and also a mom. X-rays are helpful in detecting cavities in between the teeth (which we cannnot see physically), and for checking any abnormalities in the bone (ie- permanent teeth coming in crooked, cysts, etc.) When I see a young patient (4-6yr), I'll take 1 X-ray each of the top & bottom teeth to make sure that the permanent teeth are there and on their way to coming in, and for cavities. Then I would also take 2 bitewing X-rays(one on each side) of the back teeth to check for cavities, and position of permanent teeth. Then depending on the cavity rate, I would repeat the X-rays every 1 or 1.5 yr. Cavities can occur & spread quickly in baby teeth, and it's important to catch them in the initial stages. It's all part of doing a complete & thorough exam for the patient. After all, baby teeth are real important to help the kids eat & grow, and maintain space in the mouth for permanent teeth to erupt to avoid braces later on. It's not good to lose baby teeth. By the way, the first dental visit should be no later than 3-yr old. Linh