Melbourne Smile Clinic

At what frequency should radiographs be taken?

When the aim is the detection of decay and assessment of gum health, radiographs are not necessary at every check-up appointment.

The recommendations are:

For decay assessment:

If it is your first visit at the dentist and you have had a lot of fillings in the past or decay is detected in your teeth, radiographs are recommended. These would consist of 2 radiographs called bitewings to check the posterior teeth on each side of the mouth. If there are more severe or extensive issues, other kinds of radiographs might be necessary in order to obtain as much information as possible to help get a proper diagnosis. 

If it is a recall visit and you have had decay in the past and considered high risk of recurring decay, radiographs are recommended at 6-18 months interval for adults and 6-12 months interval for children of up to 11 years of age.
If it is a recall visit and you have not had fillings and is considered at low risk of decay, radiographs are recommended at 24- 36 months interval for adults and 12-24 months interval for children.

For gum disease monitoring:

When gum disease is present, specific radiographs might be required to assess its severity. These might be necessary at different intervals depending on the case to determine whether there is progression or stabilisation of the disease. The frequency is decided by the dentist based on clinical judgement.

For post-treatment monitoring:

In cases where a patient has received more complex treatment like implants, root canal treatment or crown and bridge work, radiographs might be necessary to ensure the restoration  or treatment site is being maintained in good health. Again, frequency is determined by clinical judgement.

Reference: Dental radiographic examinations: recommendations for patient selection and limiting radiation exposure. American Dental Association. Council on Scientific Affairs. 2012