If you visit the dentist regularly (and we all know you should), your dentist will at some point want to take x-rays of your teeth and surrounding structures. For many patients, that can bring on fear of being exposed to excess radiation. While you’ll want to discuss your concerns with your dentist, here are some points to consider.
A person’s exposure to radiation at the dentist’s office is tied to both the dose of radiation emitted in a single sitting and the frequency with which they have x-rays taken. These are two factors to think about when you’re considering dental x-rays.
Digital X-Rays Vs Traditional X-Rays
Digital radiography is superior to conventional radiography in a number of ways.
- Lower radiation: “The digital radiography that we use today emits a much lower dose of radiation than conventional film x-rays,” explains Guelph Village Dental’s Dr. Ketan Mistry. In fact, digital technology can involve up to 70% less exposure to radiation.
- Earlier intervention: Digital x-rays have a higher resolution, so your dentist may be able to detect cavities at an earlier stage.
- Faster service: For digital x-rays, a sensor is placed in the mouth and the images are sent directly to a computer via a wire. Digital technology results in viewable on-screen images in seconds. Traditional radiography requires time for film processing.
- Environmentally friendly: Digital radiography eliminates the harsh chemicals used for traditional radiography.
Benefits Vs Risk
Even with the lower doses of radiation digital radiography emits, you’re not going to want to sit for x-rays that aren’t necessary.
“For new patients, we like to have a set of baseline radiographs,” Dr. Mistry says. “The frequency of x-rays after that is dependent on your level of oral hygiene and the amount of previous dental work you have had…it’s always on an individual basis.”
Parents are often concerned about the levels of radiation their children are exposed to. “We understand that they want to protect their children as much as possible,” Dr. Mistry says. “A lot comes down to your dentist or hygienist explaining the amount of exposure compared to the risk to the patient for leaving problems undiscovered or untreated. What is the risk of having cavity-detecting x-rays every so often versus the risk of letting small cavities turn into large cavities?”
In the case of pregnant women, radiographs are only taken in an emergency situation. Other patients are treated as needed. “We always expose the patient to as low a dose as possible,” Dr. Mistry says. “We never take radiographs just because. There is always a reason.”
If you have questions about dental x-rays, the staff at Guelph Village Dental is more than happy to answer them. Contact us today.