Understanding Dental X-Rays
Dental X-rays help us detect cavities, infections, gum disease, cysts, tumors and developmental abnormalities much sooner than waiting for these problems to get large or advanced enough to become evident to the naked eye; or painful enough to become uncomfortable and noticeable to the patient.
Dentistry has led the healing professions in preventive care since the 1940’s and x-rays help us each and every day in finding and treating dental disease in its earliest and easiest to treat stages.
Patients who receive regular exams and x-rays tend to retain their teeth for life, while patients who go without exams and x-rays tend to have more root canals and extractions; because their dental problems are detected at a much later stage.
Risks of Radiation Exposure
The following information from the American Nuclear Society website puts the amount of radiation from our digital Dental X-rays in perspective.
As you can see from the table above, radiation exposure from dental x-rays is extremely low, in comparison to other forms of radiation that we are routinely exposed to.
International standards have recommended a maximum amount of radiation for humans working with or around radioactive materials at 5,000 mrem per year. The average accumulated amount of radiation per person is approximated at 620 per year. You can calculate your own annual radiation dose by visiting the American Nuclear Society website (www.ans.org), and clicking ‘Public Information’ and then ‘Radiation Dose Calculator.
SKYLINE DENTAL X-ray General Recommendations & Protocol
Our goal is to take the very best care of your teeth and mouth as possible. In order to do that, we need periodic x-rays to properly diagnose and treat conditions that might exist or arise in your mouth.
We realize that different patients and different dental conditions require different protocols. We have always strived to minimize our patient’s x-ray exposure and at the same time reduce the costs associated with necessary x-rays.
We do not have a one-size fits all x-ray routine in our office, but have tailored our X-ray Protocol to benefit each specific patient’s dental and medical conditions.
Patients who have a higher risk of decay, multiple existing restorations or more complex treatment plans require more frequent and regular dental x-rays.
Patients who have experienced fewer cavities and restorations in their past, and have exhibited a smaller risk of dental disease, will continue to have less frequent dental x-rays recommended to them.
Our X-ray Protocol also takes into account numerous other important factors; such as pregnancy, patient’s age, medical history (dry mouth, acid reflux, concurrent radiation therapy, …).
We will continue to honor the trust that our patients have placed in us, by taking the necessary steps to properly diagnose and treat their dental problems, while remaining respectful of our patient’s wishes for a protocol that caters to each patient as an individual.
With our X-ray Recommendations and Protocols, we hope to provide the right balance between our patient’s wishes for reduced exposure to radiation and the Oregon Board of Dentistry’s Standard of Care for dental practices.
Lead Aprons and Thyroid Collars in Dentistry
Lead aprons for patients were first recommended in dentistry many years ago when dental x-ray equipment and technology was much less sophisticated.
Doses from the current digital dental x-rays are so low, that State and regulatory agencies no longer recommend routine use of the upper body or full size lead aprons. A Thyroid Collar or shield is still being recommended for children and adults; but the full size lead apron use is only being recommended during pregnancy and for any individual who requests or has individual concerns about the procedure.