How Safe are Dental X-Rays?

Dental x ray photo

Like most medical procedures, dental X-rays have advantages and disadvantages. The most obvious advantage is the fact that X-rays allow dental professionals to examine tissue, bones and hard-to-reach surfaces. Despite these advantages, X-rays do expose your body to low levels of radiation.

According to the American College of Radiology, an average of .005 millisierverts of radiation is exposed during each X-ray. This is about the equivalent to basking in the sun for a day. Panoramic dental X-rays that are wrapped around the head delivers about twice as much radiation. Dental X-rays expose the body to negligible amounts or radiation; however, radiation accumulates in the body and can eventually have a detrimental effect on your health, which is why they are used sparingly in dental offices.

Children are more susceptible to the effects of radiation from X-rays. The cells in a child’s body are constantly multiplying and growing. Because of this, parents should be concerned about how often their children are exposed to dental X-rays. For example, the thyroid gland should be shielded before undergoing a dental X-ray. Dental professionals should always consider the benefits of performing X-rays as compared to the disadvantages. Routine X-rays should generally be prescribed in six-month intervals unless absolutely necessary. Official recommendations from the American Dental Association state that X-rays performed on an infrequent basis have no significant effect on the health of an individual.

Overall, x-rays are an absolute necessity in the healthcare industry, and, in particular, dentistry. Dental professionals should not sacrifice the quality of their services in fear of exposing patients to negligible amounts of radiation. Without X-rays, it would be impossible for dentists to diagnose certain ailments and perform their jobs effectively.