Be conservative and conscientious with ordering required x-rays. Follow the ADA Radiographic Guidelines and don’t be an “every 6 months” or “every year” scheduler. Too many dentists follow a dental insurance frequency limit and not the ADA guidelines. Dental x-ray frequency is based on each patient’s clinical presentation.

And on the flip side- Many patients are very “radiation” cautious these days and occasionally one will object to having any dental x-rays.

“Oh I don’t want any of those X-RAYS! I just want the doctor to take a look!” The patient needs to be reassured about the very small doses of radiation received in a dental survey, especially with today’s digital equipment, and it’s comparison to normal background radiation exposure we all receive all the time. Reassure them that x-rays are naturally occurring and show them dosage comparisons to flying in a plane or living in mile-high Denver. You will be surprised. Then relate how absolutely necessary they are to proper and legal treatment and relate that actual lives have been saved by x-ray diagnostics and treatments.

But if they still object- “Mrs. Smith, I would never endanger you (and yourself legally) by examining or treating you with blindfolds on and that’s what having no x-rays of your mouth would be like. I would never see the decay, infections, or tumors that might exist (alarm words are ok at this point and sometimes effectively make your point!) and I cannot accept you as a patient unless you allow me to do my best. I will only take the films I really need and never more often than needed.” Most of the patients will accept your radiographic requirements at this point but a few still will not and these you should ever so politely inform them why you cannot proceed any further. Basically, a patient cannot sign a waiver giving you permission to malpractice below the standard of care.


Grab a dental x-ray online of a large tumor in a mandible and a large periapical radiolucency around a tooth. Show the film to the patient and point out the dangerous lesions that were only picked up on an x-ray.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.