Exposure to radiation is a growing concern for our patients and we understand this. Why do we need to take x-rays anyway? During the dental examination we can see certain things visually however x-rays provide information regarding what is not visible to the naked eye.
With the help of x-rays we can determine if there’s decay hiding between the teeth and under existing fillings and crowns. They are also used to identify presence of gum disease by showing bone loss, infections at the tip of the roots, cysts or tumours that can occur in the jaw bone. Early detection of cavities and bone loss can minimize the treatment required, i.e a small filling for a cavity and help stop or slow down the gum disease process (preventing tooth loss).
We know that x-rays provide valuable information, however radiation exposure is a potential risk that we are all concerned about. Our treatment philosophy is to follow the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle: to prescribe the x-rays that are necessary to help with diagnosis. The factors used to determine if an x-ray is needed are: existing dental work present in the mouth; condition of that dental work, how prone a patient is to getting cavities (their cavity history); whether there is clinical evidence of gum disease, and what their home care is like. Age or health status can also be a factor as conditions can change over time.
When comparing radiation exposure from digital dental x-rays to other common sources, thankfully the numbers are very low (one dental xray is 5 microseverts of radiation). The chart below outlines the radiation exposure from common sources.
We use digital sensor x-rays in our office which allows for the low levels of radiation exposure. Rest assured that we will only take x-rays necessary to take care of your oral health needs. A decision regarding x-rays is always made on an individual basis.
- X-rays were discovered by accident
- The sun and black holes emit x-rays
- X-rays are a part of the electromagnetic radiation
Abinaash Kaur, BSc, DDS