Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental X-rays and safety

We’ve all most likely had dental x-rays taken on us in our lifetime, and for good reason. This is a standard diagnostic procedure used to evaluate our oral health and is deemed extremely safe. These X-rays emit low levels of radiation that are parallel to the amount of background radiation we naturally experience daily, according to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Why dental X-rays are performed and when do they become unsafe?

Are Dental X-Rays Safe

Dental X-rays may be used to help determine the number, size, and location of the teeth, dental cavities, oral pathologies, dental infections, bone loss, jaw fractures, and many other oral conditions. In general, dental X-rays are safe when the proper protocols are in place, however, there are some situations in which an X-ray may not be recommended. This may depend on factors such as your age, current health status, or per the recommendations of your medical professionals for instance.

Types of dental X-rays

There are many different types of dental X-rays that each are designed to capture a special view of your mouth. Dental bitewings capture a close-up view of the crowns of your upper and lower teeth when biting down. These X-rays commonly help your dentist identify cavities in-between your teeth. Occlusal X-rays help your dentist evaluate your upper and lower teeth, the roof of the mouth, or floor of mouth. It can be used to help identify extra teeth, unerupted teeth, jaw fractures, oral pathology, and other dental anomalies. A panoramic X-ray gives an overall view of the mouth and the machine rotates around the head. This technique may be used to evaluate wisdom teeth, space for dental implants, jaw abnormalities, or can be used for orthodontic purposes. Periapical X-rays help get an up-close view of the tooth’s dental crown and root, as well as the bone surrounding the tooth.

What are the risks of dental X-rays?

Although dental X-rays are a form of radiation, the levels of radiation are extremely low and there are many safety precautions to where it is thought to have little or no effect on the risk of developing cancer.

How many dental X-rays are safe?

How many dental x-rays are safe in a day

How many dental x-rays are safe in a month

How many dental x-rays are safe in a year

When it comes to the question of how many dental X-rays are safe in a day, month, or year, there is no specific quantity. All dental professionals are trained to implement the “ALARA” principle, which stands for “As Low as Reasonably Achievable,” when taking X-rays and the exposure received is kept at a safe dosage.

Who should avoid X-rays?

In some circumstances, it may be suggested to avoid dental X-rays, such as if recommended by a medical professional. This may be the case for young children or pregnant women. However, in general, dental x-rays are deemed safe in pregnant patients according to the American Dental Association (ADA). In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women similarly agrees: “Patients often need reassurance that prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral conditions, including dental X-rays (with shielding of the abdomen and thyroid) … [is] safe during pregnancy.”

How to prepare for dental X-rays?

Besides regular toothbrushing and flossing, no specific preparations are necessary before having dental X-rays. During your dental appointment, when it is time for x-rays a lead vest or thyroid collar will be placed across your chest and the X-ray machine will be positioned to capture images of your oral cavity.

Find quality dental care for your oral issues

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Our caring team of dental professionals at Gentle Dental is here to take care of all your dental needs. We are dedicated to helping you maintain a beautiful smile. Whether you’re in need of emergency care, cosmetic procedures, cavity fillings, or simply a dental check-up and cleaning, we offer a whole host of dental services and a comfortable environment for you and your family.