Are X-Rays needed at the dentist?
- Posted on: Jul 6 2015
We share your concern about x-rays. The reality of radiation exposure makes everyone uneasy. But the fact remains that x-rays are critical to the practice of quality, preventative dentistry. In our practice, we sincerely believe the judicious use of x-rays is in our patient’s best interests.
X-rays are not just business as usual. We rely, first and foremost, on a clinical, visual examination of your mouth. Then we ask ourselves, what information do we expect to find with x-rays that will benefit this patient and their individual dental condition? For example, on a patient will little to no history of dental disease (be it cavities or gum infection) we will recommend a more limited regimen of x-rays than someone who has experienced a full mouth of fillings and/or crowns, or a patient with a troubling history of gum disease. But regardless, all patients will benefit from annual radiographs in order to catch problems early and save them the inconvenience of more expensive or time consuming treatments. Oral cancer can also be detected through dental x-rays and everyone understands the critical benefit to catching this early.
Here is how we protect you: We utilize the newest, most state-of-the-art x-ray equipment which reduces the size of the beam and eliminates radiation scatter. This means we are not exposing any areas that we are not targeting for our x-rays, such as glands and tissue in the neck that many people have concerns about. We utilize digital sensors instead of traditional film, which requires exponentially less exposure time – most dental x-ray now take a fraction of a second. Therefore, the areas we are targeting receive approximately 10% the amount of radiation as traditional (non-digital) x-ray film. And last, but not least, we monitor our equipment faithfully to keep timers precise and mechanically perfect.
Altogether, modern dental x-rays are completely safe. And the benefit of allowing your dentist to see and catch potential problems sooner far outweighs the negligible amount of radiation exposure. Something else you might consider is that if dental x-rays were harmful, it would be dental personnel who would experience a higher incidence of conditions associated with excessive x-ray exposure. And there have been zero reported cases reflecting people who work in a dentist office have more problems because they administer x-rays. Our staff even periodically wears x-ray badges which are monitored by an outside company to look for an excess of radiation exposure, and not once has one of them shown any detectable level of radiation exposure.
So thank you for your understanding, our urging for annual x-rays is for your benefit, and we guarantee that we will continue to provide you the best level of care available in dentistry!