How often X-rays (radiographs) should be taken depends on the patient's individual health needs. It is important to recognize that just as each patient is different from the next, so should the scheduling of X-ray exams be individualized for each patient. Your dentist will review your history, examine your mouth and then decide whether you need radiographs and what type. If you are a new patient, the dentist may recommend radiographs to determine the present status of the hidden areas of your mouth and to help analyze changes that may occur later. If you have had recent radiographs at your previous dentist, your new dentist may ask you to have the radiographs forwarded.
The schedule for needing radiographs at recall visits varies according to your age, risk for disease and signs and symptoms. Recent films may be needed to detect new cavities, or to determine the status of gum disease or for evaluation of growth and development.
Dentists are supposed to be taking care of you. It would be impossible for the state to write a law to cover every procedure that happens in a dental office. However, the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners does require a dentist to provide services according to an appropriate standard of care. There are guidelines for prescribing dental radiographs published by the FDA and the ADA. In order to do a complete examination, a dentist is required to take x-rays, since a large percentage of the conditions affecting the teeth are not detectable by visual examination. If a dentist fails to take periodic x-rays, and does an incomplete examination, and "didn't take care of you," he could be cited for unprofessional conduct by the dental board.