Dental X-Rays – Why You Need Them and Why They’re Safe

We all know that many people fear a trip to the dentist, and that fear extends to receiving dental x-rays. Some of this anxiety is based on research showing that x-rays built before 1970 may have increased the risk of thyroid cancer if performed without a neck guard. We hope to dispel any fear related to thyroid health, radiation risk, and general concerns with reliable, science-supported facts about the advantages and necessity of dental x-rays. At Lecroy Dental, we offer many services and we want you to feel great about every one of them.

The Truth About Radiation

Radiation is part of our daily lives. While it’s best to minimize exposure, an x-ray is an extremely small amount of radiation to experience annually — or, in most cases, every other year.

For comparison, consider the following amounts of radiation the average person experiences regularly:

  •    The walk-through scanner at the airport is 0.001 mrem
  •    Naturally occurring radiation in the human body is 0.04 mrem
  •    An average coast-to-coast flight is 4.0 mrem
  •    A full body scan is 1000.0 mrem
  •    The average radiation exposure a person experiences annually is around 300.0 mrem.

With that in mind, consider that a dental x-ray is actually only 0.6-0.9 mrem of radiation. The amount of radiation it would take to put you at fatal risk would be around a million mrem. In fact, the scan to check your thyroid would subject you to exponentially more radiation than a routine panoramic dental x-ray. The next time you read something about radiation risk, we hope that you will remember these facts and put your dental health first!

What Dental X-Rays Look For

Dental x-rays look for many signs that can signal your dental well-being, or find impending problems. It isn’t just cavities and wisdom teeth your dentist is checking. The results of an x-ray can reveal many signs related to your health and well-being. Here are a few examples:

  •    Jaw alignment and health
  •    Cavities, risk of cavities
  •    Evidence or risk of gum cancer
  •    Tumors in the mouth or gums
  •    Oral disease and gum disease
  •    Periapical abscesses and impacted teeth

Types of Dental X-Rays

Most often a hygienist or dental assistant who holds a radiation certification will perform your x-ray. The dentist will read and interpret the x-ray. There are several types of x-rays that could be performed:

  •    Panoramic
  •    Periapical
  •    Bite-wing
  •    Full round of all x-rays

Often, to better assess your oral health, the dentist or technician may take a panoramic x-ray of the entire jaw, followed by a few more closeup or periapical x-rays to look at specific areas of your teeth, gums, and jaw. These thorough exams can help rule out a host of dental problems or oral disease and give you peace of mind about your health. Get the most out of your dental care with regular dental x-rays. Contact Lecroy Dental to set up an appointment today!