In a recent article, we covered the different types of dental x-rays your dentist may perform to monitor your dental health. Yet, one question that seems to always be on the mind of many is, “Are dental x-rays really safe?”
Sure, it is natural to consider this question. After all, the radiograph machine is pointed straight at your head!
The benefits of dental x-rays are well-known and accepted at this point. Yet, it’s important for peace of mind that you understand dental x-ray safety too.
After all, dental x-rays are the only way a dentist can “see” (or know) what is going on with your dental health, beyond what his or her eyes can see. This is critical for the treatment and prevention of cavities, gum disease, and even other dental issues with the surrounding bone or jaw.
Without dental x-rays, it’s very likely people would experience a great deal more issues with their teeth, gums, and jaw—and probably more pain too!
The good news is dental x-rays – like other medical x-rays – are very safe. X-rays used for medical purposes use extremely low levels of radiation.
Of course, it is true that even very small levels of radiation can add up over time. Thus, experts caution x-rays should only be used when necessary. Furthermore, x-rays should be done with the lowest effective radiation dose possible.
Yet, you needn’t worry. The dental field has thoroughly accepted and acknowledged all of this, consistently working to ensure dental x-rays for you and your family’s dental treatment and evaluation are as safe as can be.
How can we assure you of dental x-ray safety?
Here are the ways x-rays have changed over the years to be safer than ever:
Lower dental x-ray doses make the dental x-ray safer
This is perhaps the most important reason that we can be confident in the safety of dental x-rays. Sure, the machine seems super-large. However, the x-rays come out of a very small cone, emitting or creating a radiation area less than three inches in diameter. Very little radiation extends beyond this beam.
Better film / film improvements make dental x-rays safer
New dental films are fast, meaning less exposure is needed to get the x-ray on the film than ever before.
Digital x-rays are becoming more common
Digital x-rays reduce radiation by as much as 80%. About 1/3 of all dentists use digital x-ray today and that is expected to increase more and more.
Regular maintenance, licensing, and inspection of dental x-ray equipment is required
The state helps to ensure your safety because it requires local health departments to check out x-ray machines to make sure they stay as accurate and safe as they are on day one.
Lead shields help protect you from certain kind of x-rays
Most patients under thirty will wear a thyroid collar when getting dental x-rays. These shields – along with the standard lead shields over the upper body – have been used for a long time. However, they are really more for peace of mind than anything else since current dental x-rays machines scatter very little radiation beyond the cone.
Limiting x-ray usage helps limit total radiation exposure
Responsible dentists only use x-rays when they believe they are needed to ensure your dental evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment are as thorough and accurate as possible.
Thus, as you can, dental x-rays are very safe – for adults and children, alike – so long as your dentist practices their proper usage. Of course, here at Cigno Family Dental, the dental health – and overall wellness – of you and your family is always our primary concern. If you have any questions at all about dental x-ray safety, please reach out to us and we will be glad to address all your concerns!