Safe as a Day at the Beach
The question about how safe dental x-rays are is common, and easy to answer. It’s very safe. In fact, it’s much safer to have the x-rays than not to!
You must know that we’d never do anything that wasn’t safe for you.
From a day at the beach to stepping on an airplane, you can feel as safe having dental x-rays as you do on any given day. We’ll explain that more later, but the fact is that these essential diagnostic tools are as important as the other components of your regular preventative dental care.
Keeping Dental X-Rays in Perspective
“We are exposed to natural sources of radiation all the time. According to recent estimates, the average person in the U.S. receives an effective dose of about 3 mSv per year from natural radiation, which includes cosmic radiation from outer space.”
We only take dental x-rays once a year for most patients. They’re called bitewing x-rays, and we usually just take four shots from different angles. This exposure is extremely minimal, with just over half the average of what people in the U.S. get per day from naturally occurring background radiation.
Dental X-Rays: Keeping You Safe
Dental x-rays should be the least of your concerns. That’s because not only do they help protect you, but we go the extra mile to keep you extra safe. Here’s why:
- We leave nothing to chance. Even though the risks are very low, we always limit “scatter radiation” to patients and staff so that the risk is “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA). That comes in the form of that lead bib/apron you wear while we’re taking your x-rays. Radiation can’t get through the lead, so even that little bit isn’t reaching your vital organs.
- Dental x-rays allow us to catch issues that we can’t see from the outside, but which can be far more risky than the minimal radiation from the process. This includes things like tooth decay, bone loss, cavities, adult teeth trapped behind baby teeth, and tumors. Skipping x-rays means the problems can progress to a point where the health risks, costs, and pain become much worse than they needed to be. As we already mentioned, x-ray related risk is as minimal as a sunny day.