Chicago Dental Blog

Hilliard Blank, DDS & Associates - Lakeview Dentist > Chicago Dental Blog > Uncategorized > Dental X-Ray Safety

Dental X-Ray Safety : March 9, 2014

Assessing the Risks of X-Rays

By: Dr. Hilliard Blank

How Much Radiation is in a Dental X-Ray?

The amount of radiation received from dental x-rays is approximately .005 millisieverts. To put this in context, the average human absorbs 3.0 millisieverts per year under natural circumstances. Even walking through the park, we are absorbing radiation from the air we breathe, telecommunication waves and electrical signals in our devices, and thousands more sources. Even the food and water we live on exposes us to trace amounts of radiation. The average dental x-ray exposes us to less than1 day of natural radiation.

There are two types of x-rays most commonly used in dental offices: standard dental x-rays and cone-beam computed tomography. Computed tomography scans, or CT scans, are the leading source of exposure to radiation in medical treatments. These scans can expose a patient to as much as 20 millisieverts at a time, or 7 years of natural radiation. At our office, we only use standard dental x-rays with digital imaging technology.

Check out this radiation exposure chart for more details on radiation from x-ray imaging.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

One of the most highly-debated issues in modern dentistry is the safety of x-ray imaging. A recent study attempting to link meningioma (brain cancer) to dental x-rays failed to show causal relation between the x-rays and the brain tumors. It did support the fact that excessive exposure to dental x-rays should be avoided. At our dental office in Lakeview, we use x-ray imaging only as needed to accurately diagnose and treat any issues in your oral health that cannot be observed on the surface. To be clear:

The benefits of having a clear diagnosis and an informed treatment plan for your oral health needs greatly outweigh the risks of radiation exposure from dental x-rays.

Minimizing Exposure and Maximizing Protection

At our Lakeview dental office, we prescribe x-rays for the diagnosis of problems beneath the surface of the tooth or gums. It is an essential tool in our comprehensive exam.  A full set of x-rays would only be taken every three to five years. We do not schedule more than four bitewing x-rays in a 12-month period unless there are significant problems to treat.

Our digital imaging equipment relies on the fastest capturing processes to reduce the amount of radiation exposure per image. Each patient is protected by a leaded apron to prevent any unnecessary exposure. The most important feature of each apron is the thyroid collar, which shields the throat and radiation-sensitive thyroid gland.

We go to every length necessary to protect our patients and improve their oral health. Our policies are carefully planned and conform to all of the FDA’s tips on x-ray safety. If you have any more questions or concerns, reach out to our office and we’ll help.