Dental X-rays (radiographs) are images of your teeth that your dentist uses to evaluate your oral health. These X-rays are used with low levels of radiation to capture images of the interior of your teeth and gums. This can help your dentist to identify problems, like cavities, tooth decay, and impacted teeth, damage, and disease affecting the roots and bones of your mouth. For your protection, a dentist covers you in a heavy vest and ask pregnant women to forgo x-rays which leads to a lot of questions about dental x-ray safety.
Are There Risks with Dental X-Ray Exams?
While dental X-rays do involve radiation, the exposed levels are so low that they’re considered safe for children and adults. If your dentist uses digital X-rays instead of developing them on film, your risks from radiation exposure are even lower. Your dentist will also place a lead “bib” over your chest, abdomen, and pelvic region to prevent any unnecessary radiation exposure to your vital organs. A thyroid collar may be used in the case of thyroid conditions. Children and women of childbearing age may also wear them along with the lead bib. Pregnancy is an exception to the rule. Women who are pregnant or believe they may be pregnant should avoid all types of X-rays. Tell your dentist if you believe you are pregnant, because radiation is not considered safe for developing fetuses.
Amounts of Radiation You Are Exposed To In Everyday Life…
Radiation is measured in units called rems. The doses in the medical world are so small they are measured in millirems or mrem which is just one thousandth of a rem. The digital dental x-ray averages 0.4 mrem. These are some examples of amounts of radiation we may be exposed to…
- Eating a Banana – 0.01 mrem
- Airport Scan – 0.001 mrem
- Radiation in the Human Body – 0.04
- Average Flight form New York to Los Angeles – 4 mrem
- Chest X-Ray – 10 mrem
- Mammogram – 40 mrem
- CT Scan of Full Body – 1000 mrem
On average, you can expect to be exposed to somewhere between 200-350 mrem throughout a year, far below the fatal level which is one million mrem.
Dental X-Ray Safety
Flying cross-country exposes a person to a far higher amount of radiation than digital or film dental x-rays. Dental x-rays do expose patients to a small dowse of radiation and that dose is so small that the benefits outweigh the harmful effects. Bite-wing X-rays are the usual x-rays done every year or two years at your regular dental exam. They show details of the upper and lower teeth in one area of the mouth. Each bite-wing shows a tooth from its crown to about the level of the supporting bone. Bite-wing X-rays are used to detect decay between teeth and changes in bone density caused by gum disease. They are also useful in determining the proper fit of a crown (or cast restoration) and the marginal integrity of fillings. So the next time your dentist tells you it is time for x-rays, do not worry, they really are safe!
We hope you fell better about knowing what to expect during your next X-Ray session!
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About Tri-State Family Dentistry
Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.