Some patients are afraid to get an X-ray at the dentist’s office because they’ve heard the radiation from these tests is unsafe. But, the truth is, dental X-rays are very safe and should be no cause for concern.
How Safe Are X-Rays?
The American Dental Association considers the risk of X-rays to be “very small”, especially if using digital x-rays. X-rays introduce some radiation to the body to produce images, but the dose is so low that the possibility of harmful side effects is extremely unlikely.
Since dental health affects the rest of your body, the potential benefits of detecting undiscovered disease far outweighs any small risk involved.
How Much Radiation Is in an X-Ray?
Radiation is measured by a unit called millisieverts (mSv). You are exposed to about three millisieverts of natural background radiation each year.
As a comparison, here are some typical radiation doses from dentistry:
- Bitewing X-Ray: 0.005 mSv
- Panoramic Dental X-Ray: 0.025 mSv
- Cone Beam CT Scan: 0.18 mSv
This means that the most common dental X-ray provides a lower radiation dose than you receive naturally from just being outside on a typical day.
Why Do Dentists Use X-Rays?
Dentists use X-rays to find dental problems and gum-related issues that are not always obvious during a visual oral exam. X-rays help dentists identify cavities, bone loss, cancer, abscesses and tumors, and infections under the gums that would otherwise go undetected as well as changes in previous root canals, and help prepare for dentures and implants.
An X-ray can also show your dentist the overall state of your teeth, helping them to create a dental plan that keeps your teeth in good shape.
At Piper Family Dentistry, we make sure to follow the “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA) principle with our X-rays, which means that you won’t get any more scans taken than required.
If you need a tooth extraction, crown, or any of our other suite of services, call our team of dental experts at (727) 548-7100 today!
Dr. Piper is a General and Cosmetic Dentist who has proudly served Pinellas County since 1993. Both he and his team of professionals provide high quality, gentle dental care in a relaxed, personalized, and caring environment. Treating patients like family sets his practice apart from others.