Occasionally, one of our Hendricks County patients will ask our staff at Danville Family Dentistry about the safety of dental X-rays. We understand your concern about exposure to radiation from dental X-rays. Therefore, we want to address some of the frequent questions we get asked.
Why are dental X-rays needed?
Dental X-rays are a diagnostic tool that Dr. Jon Erickson uses to detect cavities, gum disease and other oral problems that may not be visible during a regular dental exam. X-rays help Dr. Erickson find and treat dental issues early before they become an even bigger problem, saving you money, needless pain, and possibly even your life.
How safe are dental X-rays?
Today’s dental X-ray equipment is designed to emit extremely small doses of radiation. While the X-ray machine may look large, it is well shielded to keep your radiation exposure low. Radiation only comes out of a small cone that limits the exposed area to less than three inches in diameter. Plus, film speeds are faster to reduce radiation exposure.
Per the American College of Radiology, four bitewing X-rays, which is what many Hendricks County patients get during a routine exam, emit about .005 millisieverts of radiation. That’s about the same amount of radiation you get in a normal day from exposure to the sun and other sources.
If you get a panoramic dental X-ray, which goes around your head, the amount of radiation is about twice that. Additionally, when digital X-rays are used, the amount of radiation is reduced by up to 80%. Therefore, your risk of potentially harmful effects from dental X-rays is low.
Do dental X-rays have any cumulative effect over my lifetime?
Yes, the effects of radiation from all sources – not just from dental X-rays – can add up over your lifetime. However, you’re exposed to more radiation from the sun over a year than from a dental X-ray. Also, just know our staff will do everything they can to limit your exposure from X-rays.
What safety precautions are available while X-rays are taken?
Leaded aprons and leaded thyroid collars can protect your chest, abdomen and thyroid and minimize your exposure to radiation. Leaded aprons and thyroid collars are recommended for women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children.
Contact our Hendricks County Office
Talk to Dr. Erickson if you have any other questions about dental X-rays and the precautions we take. Schedule your semi-annual checkup and exam by contacting our office at 317-745-4400.