Dental X-Ray

Many patients have expressed concerns about the amount of radiation exposure caused by dental radiographs. We want to set the record straight about this very important diagnostic tool and what it means for your health.

The first thing you should know is that dental radiographs expose you to less radiation than pretty much any other type of diagnostic radiograph. In fact, the typical “bite-wing” radiographs that we take on a regular basis as part of your preventive care routine cause less radiation exposure than other types or dental radiographs (such as panoramic radiographs). So the type of radiograph you have most frequently is very minor in terms of exposure.

What’s more, the amount of radiation that comes from a bite-wing radiograph imaging session is only a bit more than you are exposed to each day just by living on planet Earth. Our bodies are constantly exposed to solar radiation and elements in the earth itself (such as radon) that are slightly radioactive.

Radiation doses are measured in microsieverts. The average person gets about 0.8 microsieverts of exposure from natural sources each year. An intraoral radiograph is about 5.0 microsieverts, so the equivalent of about 6-days worth of natural radiation. This is also about the equivalent amount of radiation you receive by being on an airplane for about 2 hours.

The frequency with which we will take radiographs of your mouth, and the type of radiographs we take, depends on your individual oral health. Some patients have risk factors for certain conditions that mean they should be monitored more closely using more frequent radiographs. Please be assured that when we determine you need radiographs, this is a decision based on your oral health.

It is very, very unlikely that the small doses that come from dental radiographs would have any impact on your health. What could have an impact on your health is foregoing this important diagnostic process. Dental radiographs allow us to see things inside your mouth that are invisible to the naked eye and cannot be viewed any other way.


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