Radiation and the Safety of Dental X-Rays

It is not unusual to have concerns about getting dental x-rays done. Being draped with a lead apron can make anyone nervous. However, the benefits from having dental x-rays completed outweighs the risks with following safety protocols and only taking the necessary x-rays that are needed. Dental x-rays are used by our Doctors and team to evaluate decay, bone loss from periodontal disease, disease/abscesses, and developmental anomalies. If a cavity is detected at the early decay state, our office has implemented preventative measures to reverse these with in office and at home painless methods instead of drilling the tooth – while some offices would just ‘watch’ it. Tooth decay left undiagnosed (even for 1 year) and untreated can often time lead to emergency dental pain even tooth loss. Our philosophy is prevention and from our experience your tooth will never hurt less or cost less than it does today.

How safe are dental x-rays?

At Southcoast Smiles and Perfect Smiles, the technology we use for digital x-ray imaging has a low dose of radiation.

Bitewings are taken at your maintenance cleaning visits and they are used to see areas in between the teeth we can not see with the naked eye. The amount of exposure is about .005 mSv (Millisieverts) which is comparable to the daily natural environmental exposure. The FDA recommends that at your dental cleaning visits to get posterior (back) x-rays and exam every 6-12 months if teeth are touching as they have a risk for cavities. In our office we also use platinum digital sensors which have 10x less radiation than the conventional packet film. The average exposure time for one x-ray is 0.12 seconds.

We have invested in state of the art panoramic and CT scanners to ensure the least amount of exposure possible for our patients! A full face CT scan (0.05 mSv) is comparable to a long distance flight (at or over 0.04 mSv) and our adult pan on average is 0.02 mSv.

It is important to let our team at Southcoast Smiles and Perfect Smiles know if you are pregnant or may be pregnant. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the use of aprons and thyroid shields for pregnant patients. However, we take even more precautions (double lead aprons, and limiting the exposure amount if possible) than the ADA recommends to ensure the health of mom and baby. Studies of pregnant patients receiving dental care have affirmed the safety of dental treatment.

If you have any concerns about the number of x-rays you are having done or the radiation you are exposed to, please give our office a call and talk to us about those concerns.

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