X-rays are an essential part of a dental checkup. They peer into places no dental mirror could ever reach and draw a complete picture of a patient’s mouth. Dental x-rays are deemed safe, mainly because they’re not like the x-rays used to check your bones (more on that later).
However, some parents are concerned about the level of radiation emitted by these devices. An adult can withstand up to 25 REMs before he or she starts feeling the effects. By comparison, a CT scan of your abdomen and pelvic area will use just 0.20 REMs. Can kids withstand the same amount of energy?
According to federal regulations, minors have a threshold of 0.30 REMs, with a mandated limit of 0.50 REMs (they also limit the radiation exposure of adults to 5 REMs). The allowable amount of radiation already includes both natural and medical or dental sources. That’s why a Philadelphia dentist takes steps to reduce the patient’s exposure, as much as possible.
Dental x-rays only emit 0.04 REMs, less powerful than most x-rays in use. This is due to the fact that dental x-rays use sensors, not film. Computerized results need not be printed on film unlike conventional x-rays, by and large lessening the radiation required. In fact, on average, the East Coast is probably exhaling more radiation (up to 0.06 REMs) than radiation administered for dental x-rays.
Dentists use a wide array of dental x-rays to determine the condition of certain areas in the mouth.
- Bitewing x-rays are used to locate cavities, namely in between teeth.
- Periapical x-rays are used to monitor tooth growth within the gums, as well as detect abscesses and periodontal disease.
- Panoramic x-rays provide a two-dimensional view of all your teeth.
- Occlusal x-rays only provide a full view of either the upper or lower teeth, often a low-cost alternative to panoramic x-rays.
- Orthodontic x-rays produce a bigger picture of your head from the side for review of your dental bones and the skull.
Despite the low radiation, a reputable Philadelphia dentist will still minimize a patient’s exposure for good measure. Dentists like Dr. Gerald Regni are urged to practice the As Low As Reasonable Achievable (ALARA) principle, mainly by having patients wear leaded aprons. These are usually worn on the abdomen and collar to protect sensitive organs like the thyroid gland during an X-ray procedure.
Furthermore, dental x-rays aren’t given away like candy. If they can detect the problem using hand tools like a dentist’s mirror, they’ll do that. Patient safety is always top priority.
“X-Rays for Children,” Colgate
“X-rays,” American Dental Association