The Impact of Dental X-rays

Since the 1950’s, movies and comic books have thrilled us with imagined side effects from radiation exposure. As a result, many kids are really excited when it comes time to get dental x-rays, in the hopes of gaining super powers. Meanwhile, their parents start anxiously biting their nails over radiation concerns (which needs to stop, by the way). Rest assured that the Placerville Dental Group is not only concerned for your oral health, but overall health too. Therefore, let’s discuss whether dental X-rays, or radiographs, are dangerous.

How Much Radiation Is It?

First off, taking x-ray images does not cause you or your child to turn green, gain super strength, spin spider webs or acquire the ability to look through walls. (Sorry kids, and dads). Since the beginning of the Earth, elements in the crust started emitting radiation, and cosmic rays from the Sun began to bombard our planet. (Visit a science museum with a “cloud chamber” and you can indirectly observe the presence of these cosmic rays all around us.) With the advent of nuclear power and above-ground weapons testing, man-made sources also became part of our worldwide radiation dose. In fact, during your lifetime, background radiation provides an average of 50% of your total dose of radiation. The total from all x-rays, dental and medical, is only 5%. These numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency also reflect x-ray usage from decades ago, when statistics on radiation first started to be calculated. Today’s digital x-ray machines significantly reduce the strength of x-ray radiation emissions, making them safer than ever. And rest assured, our x-ray machines are always properly calibrated and maintained, according to industry standards.

Precautionary Measures for Dental X-Rays

What’s more, our staff at the Placerville Dental Group fits you with lead-based personal protective equipment (PPE), like bibs and thyroid collars, offering more precautionary safety. We may step just outside the room to press the button, but we are always on-hand to watch over you during the procedure. (Our dental staff takes x-rays every workday, thus the need to step away from the machine. Our patients usually take dental x-rays no more than once per year.)

Adding further to our caution, we make sure to take as few radiographs as possible. Some patients only need an x-ray every two years, depending on factors like:

  • Age
  • Stage of dental development
  • Dental history
  • Noted symptoms
  • Various risk factors for existing conditions

Of course, it’s important to know what your current situation is before undergoing any dental or medical procedure, including radiographs. If you are pregnant, undergoing certain medical therapies, have a specific phobia, or some other condition you suspect might be affected by this procedure, please consult your dentist at the Placerville Dental Group.

Taking dental x-rays typically requires only a few minutes, but a full mouth series could take up to twenty-five minutes. With digital x-rays, the images are ready immediately. Your dentist goes over the findings with you. If we see any issues developing, ones that we wouldn’t see without x-rays, your dentist discusses all available treatments and helps you create a plan of action.

Like brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist twice a year, dental x-rays are an important tool for measuring your oral health and preventing dental complications. If you have any questions or concerns, please give our office a call or schedule a consultation. We’d be happy to answer all your questions about dental x-ray imaging.


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