You probably remember growing up that if you broke an arm, you feared more about getting an X-ray than you did the doctor resetting the arm. These fears stemmed from unfounded myths that the radiation from a simple medical or dental X-ray is harmful. While you wouldn’t want to subject yourself to X-rays for extreme periods of time, you should know that they are completely safe and essential to providing your dentist with a thorough look at your overall oral health.
Easing Radiation Fears
Dental radiographs are completely safe. According the The American Dental Association (ADA) has set the dental standard of care for radiographs at taking a full set of radiographs on every new patient as a baseline and then once every 5 years. They also recommend check up radiographs once every 1-2 years. The ADA reminds people that the radiation exposure associated with dentistry represents a minor portion of the total exposure from all sources. People exposed to X-rays at the dentist experience far lower levels of radiation than patients that visit hospitals and medical offices.
Deardoctor.com produced a radiation exposure comparison chart which helps explain the amount of radiation received from dental radiographs. One’s daily environmental exposure is 0.01 mSv. The average single film is equal to 0.001 microsievert (mSv) and four bitewing radiographs, traditionally used to check the back teeth for decay, the exposure is 0.004 mSv. While a full mouth series of 18-20 radiographs (all the teeth) is equal to about 0.0055 mSv.
According the statistics posted on XRayrisk.com, dental x-rays are one of the lowest radiation dose studies performed. And since the x-ray machines take images of only the necessary structures, so there is no scatter of the x-rays to other tissues. At Olive Dental Group we always take the precaution of making you wear a lead apron to shield the rest of your body.
Why do I need X-rays?
On average, most patients will get X-rays, or radiographs, from the dentist once a year. They are essential to the maintenance of your oral health. The radiographs provide a deeper look, through the soft tissues of the gums to reveal the health of your teeth and bone structure in your mouth.
Radiographs provide a detailed look at potential tooth decay, the integrity and absence of infection at the apex (root tip), and bone loss which is a condition of periodontal disease. Other lesions, whether benign or non-benign can also be detected with necessary radiographs. With children, X-rays provide insight into how teeth are growing, and help make an early determination on whether or not developing teeth are properly growing in place.
What will X-rays find?
Radiographs help the dentist find small amounts of tooth decay between the teeth or under existing dental work which cannot be seen with a visual exam. They can also help uncover abscesses or cysts, as well as infections and abnormalities. Radiographs can determine a variety of periodontal problems, which when caught early, can be treated before serious surgery is needed. Like any other medical condition, early detection of a periodontal problem is critical in developing a reliable and immediate treatment plan.
At Olive Dental Group, we treat our patients like family, and we want them to be comfortable when they are in our care. We encourage all of our patients to ask questions about any procedure so together we they can make the most informed and comfortable decision regarding their oral care. If you have a question about the need for radiographs or have delayed radiographs for years because of radiation fears, reach out and contact our team at Olive Dental Group.