Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental x-rays are sometimes taken during appointments to help dentists diagnose inner-tooth (and possibly jaw) issues. While they are largely considered safe, anytime x-rays are used for medical diagnoses some questions are understandably raised.

Why Do Dentists Use X-Rays?

Dentists can learn a lot about your teeth through a standard examination, but their observations are limited to what can be deducted from your teeth’s external inspection. 

Dental x-rays provide dentists a view of your teeth’s interior, and possibly also of the jaw bone. Seeing an image of your teeth’s interior can be helpful in a variety of ways, for dentists can:

X-rays may be used for these purposes in a preventative manner, or to treat a known/suspected issue.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental X-rays are largely considered safe when used appropriately as determined by a licensed dentist. The x-rays are brief and low, and they’re infrequent enough to not cause any undue concern.

Moreover, dental x-rays use only a fraction of the power that medical x-rays do. A chest x-ray might use up to 100 µSv, and a head CT scan up to 3,000 µSv. 

A full-mouth series of x-rays use about 35 µSv — that’s about the same amount as you’d be exposed to if you took four domestic flights.

Potential Repeat Exposure

Admittedly, repeat exposure to major x-rays does raise some long-term concerns. The rate at which dentists take x-rays, however, usually doesn’t come anywhere close to the amount needed to cause concern. 

If a person needs multiple major facial reconstruction surgeries, some minor questions about long-term effects may be raised. Even heavy exposure is linked with only small increased risks, however. 

Additionally, multiple reconstructions would probably be needed to present any real concern. Such surgeries would probably also involve a dentist, oral surgeon, otolaryngologist, and plastic surgeon. It wouldn’t just be a dentist making the decision to have x-rays done, and there are more immediate concerns than minorly increased long-term effects in these situations.

If you’re in numerous car accidents or have a losing boxing career, certainly ask about the long-term risks of x-rays. For the vast majority of people, however, dental x-rays pose no cause for concern. They’re considered safe both within and outside of the dental community.

Dentists Take Precautionary Measures

Part of the reason why dental x-rays are considered to be so safe is that dentists take multiple precautionary measures. The following practices help protect patients:

Schedule an Appointment

Don’t let x-rays prevent you from receiving dental care. Find your local Ideal Dental office to get started and discuss the use of x-rays with your dentist. They’re knowledgeable about the use and safety of this diagnostic tool and will be happy to answer any questions you have before performing them.