At Lakeshore Family Dentistry, we use digital x-rays every day. The new digital version emits less radiation than ever before. But anytime you’re talking about x-rays and radiation, moms and dads (especially moms like me) get a little nervous. So let’s take a closer look at the issue.
Digital x-rays rely on an electronic sensor to capture an image, which is then stored on a computer. This allows for immediate viewing and enlarging, making it easier for us to get to the root of the problem (no pun intended).
Today’s digital x-rays reduce radiation by 80-90% compared to traditional x-rays, which already emitted low exposure.
In this helpful post from Thomas P. Connelly, DDS, he compared dosages you would receive from a tooth x-ray to the average natural radiation (and even the radiation high-altitude Denver, Colorado receives from outer space)! Here is an excerpt from the article:
“Using a millisievert (mSv) scale to measure doses, you could expect 0.038 from Bitewing X-rays, and 0.150 from a full mouth X-ray. Of course, those numbers are practically meaningless unless you compare them to other types of X-rays:
- Lower Gastrointestinal Tract – 4.060
- Chest x-ray – .080
- Radiation from space in Denver Co. – 0.510 (per year)
- Avg. natural radiation in the US (per year) – 3.00
So essentially, you get about three and a half times the radiation from space (if you live in Denver) than you do from a full mouth X-ray.”
As Connelly notes, radiation occurs naturally in everything (which is why he included the average natural radiation figure in the article).
Nevertheless, we want to limit any types of exposure to radiation. It’s why you should wear a lead-lined vest whenever you receive a digital x-ray, and the dentist or hygienist leaves the room when an x-ray is taken.
Areas of Caution When You’re Getting Dental X-Rays
Beyond the vest, there are some other things to consider before getting an x-ray from your dentist.
- Be certain that the lead vest your dentist uses includes a thyroid neck collar.
- Let your dentist know if you’ve had a radiation treatment in the head and neck area, especially recently. Again, we want to minimize radiation exposure as much as possible.
Ultimately, I want to assure you that digital dental x-rays are not only safe, but they’re a critical component of your dental care.
X-rays are an invaluable tool for assessing any abnormalities or pathologies in the bone, roots of your teeth, unerupted teeth, and the area found in between your teeth. Different types of x-rays are taken as a standard of care typically annually or every three to five years.
Do you have any additional questions about digital x-rays? Please leave me a comment and I’ll give you an answer.