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    Dental X-Ray Safety

X-rays are safe today.

History:  X-rays were discovered over 100 years ago.  Their exposure time back than was 25 minutes and the quality of the picture was poor.  Today one picture takes only fractions of a second to produce a high quality diagnostic picture 

     The exposure from dental radiographs is extremely small especially with new developments in film and equipment.  FDA commissioner states that dental X-rays are considered safe and contain relatively low radiation.

      Examples: To help you understand the risk of exposure a comparison of radiation doses from radiography and background radiation (atmospheric, cosmic, etc. radiation) can be made with the mean active bone marrow dose.  

     Researchers compared whole-body bone marrow dose from background radiation to the data from radiographic examinations. They concluded that ‘if a person in an average location in the U.S. were to receive a full-mouth periapical and panoramic examination every 4 months for the rest of their life he would incur only the same risk as a person living in Denver who was not exposed to dental radiography’.  “Denver is exposed to more atmospheric radiation due to the high elevation of this city". So remember you are exposed to radiation naturally, including cosmic radiation from space; terrestrial radiation from stone and other building materials; and radiation from manmade objects such as color televisions 

     To carry this comparison further.  If a person in the average location in the US were to receive the same dental radiography treatment mentioned above every day for a lifetime, this individual would have the same risk as someone living in certain high elevation areas of Brazil or India (Source: Kim Loss, DDS and “Oral Radiology Principles and Interpretation, 2n Edition Mosby 1987)

Digital X-Rays-the safer way to receive a dental x-ray


Dexis Digital x-rays...benefits to you:

bulletReduced exposure to radiation
bulletLess waiting time
bulletShorter appointments
bulletInvolved in co-diagnosis
bulletBetter understanding of treatment
bulletEnvironmentally friendly


Digital radiography, or computerized X-rays, is part of the high-tech services that we provide to our patients by utilizing the DEXIS® Digital X-ray system. Digital X-rays use less radiation than traditional film. Instead of a piece of film, the system’s sensor is placed in the mouth to capture an X-ray. The DEXIS® system uses a sensor with rounded corners and a smooth casing that makes the process of taking X-rays more comfortable for patients and more efficient for our staff. Another benefit is time savings. There’s no waiting—as soon as the X-ray is taken, it appears immediately on the computer monitor. And because of the enhancements in the digital X-ray software program, we are better able to diagnose and treat conditions. Since the images can be enlarged, patients are able to clearly visualize and understand the diagnosis and proposed treatment plan. We are pleased to offer digital X-rays and other technologies so that our patients gain a positive dental experience.



          Overall a single dental X-ray like an occlusal or periapical is equal to the exposure of just one chest X-ray. An important aspect to consider here is the differences in the area exposed. A single X-ray of the chest actually results in almost three times more exposure than that of a dental X-ray.  This is due to the larger field size of the chest.   

     The exposure rate for a full mouth series is equal to the sum of all the individual exposures or only three millirems.  Three millirems are equivalent to about four days of exposure to radiation received naturally from the sun.  The overall exposure is actually much less than the sum of the individual X-rays due to the movement of the radiographic tube between exposures to narrow the exposed area to a very small area.

     Panoramic uses approximately the same amount of radiation you would get on a one way plane ride to Denver.  Remember you may receive more radiation using your microwave than you receive from one of our X-rays.  

     Remember that the risks of poor dental health must also be considered, and may include consequences such as heart disease as well as abscesses and other oral pathology.  

    How we protect you: In this office we only take X-rays when necessary and do all the following to minimize your exposure to the very low dose radiation:


We use current advancements of new and faster X-ray films and X-ray machines.  With this modern equipment the exposure time is in factions of a second. Thus we use technology that is designed to reduce radiation exposure levels. through use of an x-ray film that lets us reduce radiation dosage to the lowest possible with any intraoral x-ray film on the market. 


All our patients are required to wear a lead shield apron when we take X-rays to minimize the amount of radiation exposure to you. Here we drape you with a protective lead apron to cover the most sensitive parts of your body (reproductive cells and bone marrow) so they are NOT exposed to radiation. The lead apron will also attenuate up to 94% of the scatter radiation. 


We also use positioners to take more accurate radiographs. 


All of our dental assistants have been certified in radiography


If you are receiving medical radiology, dental X-rays only involve a very small part of the body that do not usually overlap with the areas exposed in medical radiology.  Dental X-rays are not stored in the body. 


We always ask if you are pregnant.  If there is any chance you may be we will NOT take X-rays even though the measurable uterine dose is literally zero.  We ask that you forward your dental records so if you have had current X-rays to eliminate any unneeded radiation exposure.  

     It is important to keep this issue of the safety of radiation in PERSPECTIVE.  

     Remember there are serious health risks every time you drive a car or walk across the street.  Patients who do not consent to a reasonable amount of dental radiography run a greater risk of dental disease which when left undiagnosed may cause an even greater health hazard and medical expensives, than the radiograph itself!  

     Because of low exposure, the benefit of using X-rays outweighs the fear. 

 If you have any concerns about X-rays and their safety,  please discuss them with us!

     Radiography is an indispensable tool for us to use to detect disease and are cautiously used by us to provide the greatest benefits to you.  

     We require necessary x-rays be taken to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis.  We will be unable to perform treatment if you refuse necessary x-ray diagnostic procedures.

X-ray Safety during pregnancy:



February 06, 2008

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