Dental X-rays are known to cause concern for some people because of the low levels of radiation, but the truth is the risk of radiation is very low. Annual dental X-rays are used by dentists across the country to get a better look at your teeth for a better evaluation of your oral health.
Fact: The diagnostic benefits of X-rays outweigh the potential consequences of radiation exposure. Dentists can use the X-ray to determine if teeth are coming in correctly, diagnose gum diseases, and even see early-stage cavities.
Fact: Dental X-rays contain ¼ the radiation compared to those in the past as well as less radiation exposure than some everyday activities. With new technology, the amount of radiation and the time spent in direct contact with the radiation has drastically decreased, limiting the risk of radiation poisoning. Do you cook with natural gas? Do you fly on airplanes? If so, you are exposing yourself to more radioactive material than when you get a dental X-ray.
Myth: Dental X-rays are more harmful because they are exposing you to radiation very close to your head and brain. Truth: Even being located near your head, the amount of radiation is so tiny it is unlikely to cause damage in any area of the body. Thanks to modern technology, dental X-rays are designed to only expose the radiation to your teeth.
Most dentists will get a set of X-rays each year. If you switch to a new dentist, he or she will probably get a new set.
The lead “bib” placed over your chest will protect you from unnecessary exposure. However, if you have a thyroid condition, alert your dentist. He or she may add a collar for more protection. Furthermore, if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, tell your dentist. He or she will likely skip that year’s set of X-rays.
Dental X-rays are just as important as brushing and flossing in your dental care routine. X-rays are performed once every one to two years and should not be avoided even with a good checkup. Make sure to keep up with them and don’t be afraid of the radiation. It’s too small to be harmful, just helpful!