Tooth Talks: X marks the spot

Q: Why do I need x-rays if nothing hurts?

A: Great question! This question gets asked in probably every dental office, every day, many times a day. No one likes x-rays but they are an invaluable diagnostic aid. They enable us to see much more than what is visible at the surface level.

I always wonder when people question having x-rays taken. Why would anyone want to wait until they are in pain before having x-rays taken? Why should pain be the motivation? Haven’t we gotten past that in terms of becoming healthier and living longer? Shouldn’t the prevention of pain be more important than waiting for its onset in order to act?

Perhaps cost is the issue. Well, dental problems only get bigger. In all the time I have been a dentist I have never seen one get smaller or go away. The cost for x-rays is minimal when compared with the cost of fixing a small problem rather than one that has been allowed to get bigger due to the lack of this very important diagnostic tool. We as dentists are focused on keeping our patients healthy and preventing disease.

X-rays don’t just show cavities, they can show anomalies within the jawbone, congenitally missing teeth, abscesses, fractures of the teeth or bone, developing and impacted teeth and much, much more. They can also show us if everything is healthy. Most offices today offer digital x-rays which have very, very little radiation at all. It is approximately 90 percent less than that of traditional x-rays. The exposure to radiation is minimal, about the same as being out in the Florida sunshine for about 10 minutes. Being Floridians means we spend a lot of time outdoors in the sunshine all year round.

Having to outlay a little money and a little extra time in the sun to prevent a problem or catch one early is much less expensive than the alternative of letting it become larger more complicated and costly to fix.

Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island; call 389-9400 or visit He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.

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