Jessica Majewski DMD

Dental X-Ray Safety

Dental X-rays are frequently taken at routine checkups or in between checkups if a patient has a specific dental issue. X-rays of the teeth and mouth allow the dentist to detect cavities or infection of the roots. X-rays show the dentist what cannot be visualized clinically. Checkup x-rays (bitewings) are usually taken once a year and a full set of x-rays is taken once every three years. Panoramic x-rays are usually taken for braces/orthodontics and to visualize wisdom teeth. If a patient has a toothache, broken tooth, or swelling an x-ray is usually taken to determine the cause and treatment. This all sounds good, but then we cover you with a heavy vest and advise pregnant woman to avoid X-rays, which prompts a lot of safety concerns/questions from our patients. Dentists should always have a discussion with patients to explain the risks and benefits of x-rays to determine the  lowest exposure for each and every patient. 

Radiation 101

When any dental x-rays are taken the patient is exposed to radiation. It is common knowledge we want to avoid exposure to radiation as much as possible. However, the reality is we are exposed to radiation everyday, not just during x-rays. Radiation is measured in “rems” and medical/dental radiation is measured in “mrem”, which is one thousandth of a rem. This is a very small amount of radiation exposure and we can compare it to some daily exposures to radiation.

Let us compare this to dental x-rays

The benefit of  dental x-rays far outweigh the risks! Dental x-rays allow us to diagnose a wide range of dental/oral problems including:

It is always important to have a discussion with your dentist to determine the need for your x-rays. While we follow a standard, every individual’s need and risks/benefits differ. The goal is to always expose our patients to the least amount of radiation, while still providing comprehensive and optimal care.

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