I have some dental exam questions. First, how often are dental x-rays needed for an adult? My dentist insists on doing them every six months, even though my insurance only covers once per year. Second, do adults really need fluoride treatments? Is it safe or detrimental for them? Third, would I be better off with a biological dentist?
There are some general guidelines when it comes to x-rays for dental care:
- Bitewing x-rays: Once a year
- Panographic x-ray or full series of x-rays: Once every five years
Most dentists adhere to these guidelines. A reasonable exception would be if someone is prone to decay or really struggling with their oral health. If that is not you and your dentist is still insisting on every 6 months, I would at that point talk directly to the dentist, not the staff. Tell him or her your insurance only covers it once a year and it is a financial hardship for you. If they still insist, which some will, then it will be time to find a new dentist.
As for fluoride treatments, once the teeth are fully formed, the benefits of fluoride diminish. It is typically given to children up to 14 years of age. There are some cases where it would be of benefit to adults. Some of those would be if the patient is undergoing cancer treatments, which can be devastating to teeth, or (like the x-ray situation) this patient is more prone to decay.
Fluoride and Dental Work
As to your question as to whether it is harmful to you, fluoride isn’t detrimental to your health. It can, however, damage any dental work (such as dental crowns or porcelain veneers) depending on the type of fluoride given. The most common fluoride is acidulated fluoride. This will etch the dental work, causing permanent damage to the glazing. If you have dental work you want to make sure your hygienist doesn’t use this type of fluoride.
Your question about a biological dentist, also called a holistic dentist, was a good one as well. The benefit to a biological dentist is they are more likely to listen to your wishes, especially about things like x-rays and fluoride. They’re also mercury-free, which many patients prefer these days.
This blog is brought to you by Kalamazoo Dentist Dr. Susan Dennis.