Are X-rays Harmful?
By Traci Stedman, Dental Assistant and X-ray Technician
Dental X-rays are an essential part of ensuring good oral health. Many think that X-rays are harmful because they use radiation to capture the image, and misinformation shared on the internet adds to the concerns. However, what patients may not know is that the level of radiation they are exposed to in an X-ray is actually quite low. In fact, just being out in the sun or flying in an airplane exposes you to higher levels of radiation than an X-ray.
According to the American Dental Association, the amount of radiation patients are exposed to during an X-ray is minuscule in comparison to the amount of radiation patients are exposed to on a daily basis. In fact, in one year, you will naturally be exposed to 640 times the level of radiation that routine X-rays produce. *
Are X-rays Harmful at Dental Associates?
Dental Associates goes one step farther to reduce concerns over dental X-rays. Each of our clinics use all digital X-rays, which use a very low level of radiation to take the image.
As an X-ray Technician, I have a lot of patients ask if they can forgo X-rays. It’s important to realize that a dentist can only see so much from examining your mouth with the naked eye. X-rays allow them to see in between your teeth and beneath your gums, giving them a better chance to diagnose a problem.
Why Should I Get X-rays?
X-rays also help dentists to take more preventative measures and detect oral health issues earlier. When a dentist can see an image of what’s below your gums or in between your teeth, they can anticipate if any problems will occur later, saving you both time and money in the long run.
Keep in mind that X-rays are necessary to make a complete diagnosis. If you are in pain or think you need to have a procedure done, the dentist needs to evaluate what’s going on underneath the surface to better understand the cause of your pain.
Are X-rays Harmful to Pregnant Women?
Dental X-rays are even safe for women who are pregnant. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourage the use of dental X-rays during pregnancy because of the benefits they provide not only the mother but also the child. Diagnosing and treating any oral health issue helps decrease the spread of harmful bacteria to the baby and can also help lessen the baby’s risk of future cavities.** We often put two protective vests on pregnant women, which helps ensure an even safer X-ray. Though if they wish, pregnant women can wait until their next dental appointment to have an X-ray taken.
I’ve been taking X-rays for patients for over 12 years, and one might think that I’ve been consistently exposed to high levels of radiation. However, every day I carry around an X-ray badge that tells me if I’m being exposed to radiation, and my badge never reads. This is a good indicator that the level of scatter radiation from digital X-rays at Dental Associates is very small.
All in all, dental X-rays are an important part of regular dental checkups and they are necessary in order to maintain good overall oral health. Ask your dentist for more information about the benefits of X-rays at your next visit.