If you go to the dentist regularly, you’ve probably had dental x-rays performed at a yearly or bi-annual basis. X-rays help to show the dentist a number of crucial things related to your teeth. Not only can they view the density and formation of emerged teeth, but they can also allow the dentist to look under the gumline and see how permanent teeth are developing. They are very integral to helping the dentist protect your teeth, but since x-rays involve radiation, just how safe is the process?
As you might have guessed, the answer to that question is “very safe.” So safe in fact that x-rays can even be taken in the mouths of women who are pregnant! Below, we take an in-depth look at the dental x-ray process and how we work hard to keep you protected throughout the imaging process.
Understanding Dental Radiation
Most people know that x-rays involve exposure to radiation, and radiation exposure can be harmful to your health. What a lot of people don’t know is that we are exposed to radiation naturally throughout our everyday lives, in very minimal doses. Radiation is often measured in millirems, and a million millirems is considered a fatal amount. During a dental exam, a patient is usually exposed to between 0.4 and 0.9 millirem of radiation. To say that’s far below the dangerous level of radiation exposure is an understatement – it’s practically nothing.
In fact, we’re exposed to radiation in other everyday activities. For example, you’ll be exposed to 0.01 millirems every time you eat a banana, and you’ll be exposed to four millirems of radiation on a cross country flight. Due to its altitude, residents of Denver are exposed to 50 millirems of radiation on an annual basis, and the average person is exposed to between 200 and 400 millirems of radiation throughout the course of a year. Dental x-rays are just a minuscule portion of that amount, which is still far below what could be considered a dangerous level of exposure.
As you can see, the benefits of dental x-rays far outweigh the potential drawbacks of radiation exposure because such a small amount of radiation is used. We’ll still provide patients and pregnant women with a radiation cover during the imaging process because we want to help reduce the amount of lifetime radiation each person is exposed to.
Make an Appointment
So now that you know just how safe dental x-rays are, there’s no excuse for skipping your regular dental appointments. These x-rays help to spot cavities, issues with previous dental work and identify how your permanent teeth are developing, so they are very important as you continue to grow. Most dentists will recommend getting your teeth x-rayed on a yearly basis, but if you can’t remember the last time your teeth were scanned, consider setting up an appointment with Dr. Brooks. The procedure is quick and painless and provides us with much needed information, so make sure you have x-rays taken this year. For more information, reach out to our office today.