When you visit the dentist, getting an X-ray, or radiograph, is a routine part of your appointment, especially if you complain about a toothache. Hard teeth and bones absorb more X-rays than soft cheeks and gums. This is how low levels of radiation capture images of your mouth that aren’t visible to the naked eye, making X-rays important for identifying problems with your dental health.
As someone concerned about you or your child’s well-being, you may worry about the radiation exposure from receiving routine radiographs. For this reason, Dr. Evanson always gives you the option to opt out. However, most dentists agree that X-rays are just as important as teeth cleanings when it comes to maintaining good oral health.
It’s up to you to weigh the risks and benefits of X-rays so you can make an informed decision at your next dental appointment.
Risks of Dental X-Rays: Is the Radiation Exposure Worth it?
There’s no denying that X-rays expose you to small levels of radiation, and the effects are cumulative when exposed to multiple sources over time. This is why the radiograph operator stands aside or even leaves the room before pressing the trigger that releases X-rays to capture an image.
But is this radiation exposure detrimental? Consider the facts as explained by the American Dental Association (ADA):
- Radiation from dental X-rays represents only about 2.5 percent of the doses you receive from other medical radiographs.
- About half of your total overall radiation exposure comes from medical X-rays. The rest comes from soil, radon, and other sources of “background radiation.”
- If your dentist uses digital X-rays instead of developing images on film, your exposure is even lower.
- You wear a “bib” over your chest, abdomen, and pelvis while receiving dental X-rays to protect your vital organs from unnecessary radiation exposure. A thyroid collar is also available for people with thyroid conditions.
- Formal radiograph training is required for dental office personnel to ensure optimum safety.
NOTE: If you’re pregnant, you should avoid all types of X-rays because radiation isn’t safe for developing fetuses. Request to opt out of the X-ray procedure if you have a dentist appointment while pregnant.
The ADA radiograph guidelines draw this conclusion regarding dental X-rays:
The dentist must weigh the benefits of taking dental radiographs against the risk of exposing a patient to X-rays…The dentist, knowing the patient’s health history and vulnerability to oral disease, is in the best position to make this judgment.
Benefits of Dental X-Rays: Catching Issues Early
After determining that radiographs are safe for a majority of patients, now it’s time to explore what makes them so important in the first place. Here are the benefits of dental X-rays according to the ADA:
- Many tooth and gum problems are undetectable with the naked eye, including bone infections, tumors, and decay under a filling. X-rays make it possible to catch issues early so treatment can begin promptly to ensure your dental health.
- X-rays are extremely important for detecting wisdom teeth development and determining the best method and timing for extraction.
- If you have a dental procedure performed, X-rays allow your dentist to track your healing progress and spot any problems under the surface. Quick treatment helps prevent complications.
Schedule Your Next Appointment at Evanson DDS
Whether you have a concern about your dental health, or it’s simply time for a routine cleaning, contact Evanson DDS to set up your next appointment. We use dental X-rays as a diagnostic tool to help us pinpoint any problems with your teeth and gums that require attention. If you have any remaining questions or concerns about the X-ray process, please give our office a call at (720) 409-0008.Leave a reply →