Have you ever found it odd that the dentist leaves you in a room alone to get x-rays done in order to avoid radiation damage? You’re not alone. That lead vest is less than comforting and it’s normal to think that being exposed to radiation is bad for you health. Rest assured, the benefits outweigh the risk when it comes to dental x-rays and there are plenty of preventative measures to keep dental patients safe from radiation damage.
The most common type of x-rays used by dentists are called intraoral x-rays. They are used to detect “dark spots” or tooth decay and examine the overall health of your root and bone structure. Extraoral x-rays are used to monitor your jaw bones and muscles, usually used for TMJ patients or those who are complaining of impacted tooth pain – wisdom teeth.
The Truth About Dental X-ray Safety
If you are nervous about overexposure to radiation due to dental x-rays, fear no more! On average, your dentist will take four different x-rays of the quadrants of your mouth, which in total exposes you to 0.005 mSv (millisievert) of radiation, which is equal or less to the average amount of natural exposure you receive per day of radiation. A panoramic x-ray produces about double the amount, but is still not an amount to be concerned about. Any exposure to radiation in a dental office is very minor compared to an x-ray or MRI performed in a hospital, which in most cases are even more necessary than dental purposes.
The American Dental Association in combination with the FDA created a set of guidelines for different age groups and situations on how often different age groups should be exposed to dental x-ray radiation. Of course in most situations, it is up to the dentist to decide how necessary and frequent a patient may need x-rays, especially when fighting oral disease.
For children who have healthy mouths and are not at high risk for cavities or gum disease, it is recommended they receive dental x-rays every one to two years. Teenagers of the same upstanding health should only receive dental x-rays every one-and-a-half to three years. Adults who properly manage their oral health can stand to wait three years between each x-ray. On the other hand, anyone who is at-risk, or currently has periodontal disease should get x-rays every year to track growth or improvement so dentists can properly treat the condition.
If this year your dentist says you are due for new x-rays, do not fear the risks of radiation exposure. Checking in on the health of your teeth, jaw, and overall oral health will provide benefits far beyond the minor risk of being exposed to radiation. For more information about dental x-ray safety and frequency, contact Greenspoint Dental in Houston, Texas today.