Radiation scares people and the dentists at Sacramento Dentistry recognize the causes for that concern. It certainly is a fact that too much radiation, in a single dose or over a lifetime, can lead to serious disorders. The likelihood of dental x-rays causing you any form of disease, however, is extremely minimal. Actually, dental x-rays play a much larger role in protecting you from painful disorders of the teeth, gums and mouth. X-ray imaging guides us and our patients as we make decisions regarding the best dental care for our clients.
To make dental x-rays as safe as possible, Sacramento Dentistry follows all the recommended procedures created by the American Dental Association (ADA), including lead protective gear for patients and protocols designed to limit the already tiny doses used to make the images. Additionally, modern digital x-ray imaging systems require considerably less radiation to operate than older film-based systems, making them even safer and more effective.
Nevertheless, there are often “scare stories” in the media about x-rays and some studies have indicated a slightly increased risk for certain types of cancer from dental x-rays. Important points need to be made about these studies:
- They require patient self-reporting. Imagine if someone asked you how often you visited the dentist forty years ago and how many x-rays you received. What sort of answer could you provide? Nearly all of these studies rely on this type of data collection. When patient recollection is compared to actual dental files, most people overestimate the number of lifetime x-rays they have received.
- The studies include potential risk from x-ray technology that is now obsolete. As one study concluded: “Exposure to some dental x-rays performed in the past, when radiation exposure was greater than in the current era, appears to be associated with an increased risk of intracranial meningioma.” (Italics ours) Imagine the sort of report you would have on automobile safety if you included data on cars built decades ago. It would certainly make it appear that automobile travel was potentially more hazardous than it really is. Now imagine how the media covers that report. The Internet, TV, radio and newspapers seldom say: “Study Finds Old Cars are Dangerous!” They proclaim: “Study Finds Cars are Dangerous!”
While such studies remind us of the need for caution and continual improvement in x-ray technology, they do not provide a good look at the results from vigorous safety programs in place in dental offices across the country.
The facts about dental x-rays are this:
- They feature the lowest radiation dosages of typical medical x-rays. The ADA estimates “dental X-rays contribute approximately one percent of the total dose of exposure in health care settings.”
- They provide doses of radiation that are much less than ordinary background radiation or the amount of radiation received in a typical airline flight.
- They improve dentist and patient decision-making when considering potential and necessary treatments, which improves your overall health and well-being.
Sacramento Dentistry considers x-rays a useful tool in our practice. We are happy to discuss any concerns you have over their use during your visits. Our dentists want to assure you that your health and safety are the primary reason we assist our clients each and every day!