Dental X-rays are necessary to aide your dentist in evaluating your oral health. They provide valuable information on abnormalities like tooth decay, infections, and gum disease that might be lying beneath your teeth and gums. The frequency or amount of X-rays you need to have taken depends on the present state of your oral health, age, risk for disease, and signs and symptoms of oral disease that you may be experiencing.
Compared to the daily levels of radiation we are commonly exposed to in North America, the amount of radiation we receive when dental X-rays are taken is quite small. Estimated exposure to radiation is measured in millisieverts (mSv) or millirems (mrem), and allows for comparison of other sources of radiation to that experienced when we have very localized exposure that occurs with dental X-rays. Depending on the type, dental X-rays typically produce around 0.02 mSv, or 2 mrem. *
Some comparisons of radiation from different sources and estimated exposure:
- Bitewing radiographs: 0.038 mSv*
- Full-mouth series: 0.150 mSv*
- Lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract radiography: 4.060 mSv*
- Upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract radiography: 2.440 mSv*
- Chest radiograph: 0.080 msV*
- Living in a brick house: 0.10 mSv per year*
- One cross-country flight: 0.05mSv*
- Cosmic (Outer Space) radiation: 0.510 mSv per year*
- Earth and atmospheric radiation: 3.000 mSv per year*
Research published in 2004 has determined that every year 89.2% of Canadians have medical diagnostic X-rays taken, with an attributable risk of developing cancer from this radiation of 1.1% for both men and women.* When compared with other types of medical X-rays, dental radiographs usually expose patients both to lower doses of radiation as well as radiation that is not directed at areas of the body that have the highest rates of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer.
The safety of dental X-rays has greatly increased in recent years due to advances in technology, and our office has modern machines that take and store X-rays digitally. Digital xrays reduce the already low level of radiation found in conventional dental xrays by nearly 90%/ We look forward to discussing any questions or concerns you may have regarding your safety or that of your children.