Is there a reason to be afraid of the radiation in a dental X-Ray? The short answer is no.
If you’ve ever wondered why your dentist draped you in a lead apron and all of their staff step out of the room each time you need a dental X-ray, it’s normal to have some concern about the safety of the procedure.
Fortunately, getting dental X-rays today is extremely safe…and the only reason why your dental team stays far away, is because of the risk of gradual exposure that accumulates day after day throughout their career.
Otherwise, dental X-rays are usually nothing to be concerned about!
Digital X-Rays Use Lower Amounts of Radiation
A digital X-ray requires less radiation to capture a high-resolution image than the traditional X-rays used a few decades ago. Depending on the type of film, equipment, and image being taken, it may be as much as a 90% reduction in exposure! As such, it’s safe to say that today’s dental X-rays are extremely safe.
Compared to not getting dental X-rays, the tiny amount of radiation exposure is an important trade off. Why? Because diagnostic imaging allows dentists to see inside and around the tooth structures where pathology (such as bone loss, oral cancer, or tooth decay) commonly lurk. Diagnosing them as early as possible allows for less-invasive and more cost-effective treatments. Otherwise, such problems can’t be detected until they’ve reached an advanced state that requires more aggressive therapies to manage.
A Daily Dose of Background Radiation
Every day, we’re exposed to radiation. It comes from the sun, our cell phones, and even riding in an airplane (the longer the airplane ride, the more radiation you’re exposed to!)
But when you get a set of four “bitewing” X-rays (the images that are usually taken about once a year to check for new cavities,) the total amount of radiation is only about 0.005 mSv (micro-Sieverts,) which is less than an average daily dose of radiation in everyday life.
To give you an idea of other types of radiation encountered in everyday activities, consider these comparisons: