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Taking bitewings is a quick and painless process, and the film is usually ready for the dentist to view in just a few minutes. Although you can't feel the X-ray waves, holding the film in place can be uncomfortable for some. Anxious patients may feel a slight pinching against the roof of their mouth or a gagging sensation. If that happens, the dental hygienist may be able to reposition the film and have you breathe through your nose to make you more comfortable.
While standard safety precautions should be practiced, the amount of radiation from the bitewings, or any dental X-rays for that matter, is actually quite low. As most patients experience taking bitewing X-rays only occasionally, the level of radiation they encounter isn't significant enough to cause a health concern. Regardless, no matter how many bitewings are being taken, patients should always be covered with a lead apron and anyone else should step out of the room for protection against radiation. If you are pregnant, tell your dentist -- he or she will determine whether X-rays are needed during your appointment.