If only we had a dime for every time we heard "I don't want x-rays", we'd be able to take a nice staff vacation! But here is the tooth of the matter (sorry). We understand a patients aversion to being over radiated, however x-rays help the dentist find problems the patient may not even know exists. "Nothing is bothering me, so I don't need them". The trouble with this statement is that most times pain is the last symptom! It's no different than going to the doctor for a headache only to find out a tumor has been growing in your brain for years without you knowing or having any symptoms.
In the above x-ray you can see a patient who, more than likely, didn't know that the jaw bone was deteriorating (circled in red). That space may be a benign cyst (not cancerous) or it may be malignant (cancerous). It may be where the jaw bone is simply gone, eaten away by infection over the years. We've had patients with similar issues, who had no idea!! A biopsy must be taken of the area and tested. This x-ray could have been a life saver.
That was a severe case, but what about a simple cavity. You can see in the picture below that the teeth appear to be fine, but you can see the decay between the teeth in the x-ray. Again, the patient may be completely unaware the decay exists.
Just the other day, I told Dr. Gilmore that I had a bicuspid that, overnight, seemed to determine it was going to be unhappy. It was very sensitive to air and cold. He took an x-ray and though he didn't see much in it, my symptoms alerted him to something being wrong. When he opened the tooth, he found a deep cavity! Sometimes symptoms are the only clue things are suspicious.
Bottom line: dental x-ray exams require very low levels of radiation. The levels are similar to the amount of radiation we all get from space and the earth in a day or two. It could save you pain, money and possibly your life!
It will never cost less or hurt less than it does today.