[Infographic] - Understanding Today's Dental Radiation Exposure

Radiation Dosage Chart, click for full size. 

We have all heard of the alarming radiation study results reported by our national news coverage, and thankfully most of these have been updated with relevant facts, but many reports fail to mention that these cases were years old when all x-ray procedures delivered much higher radiation exposure. X-rays should never be taken without need, but recent research helps put this in perspective:

Indeed, a full series of 18 dental X-rays has 27 times less radiation than a lower gastrointestinal (GI) series and 20 times less radiation than one year of normal background radiation from the environment. The 4 bitewing X-rays taken during dental check ups have 79 times less radiation than a year of normal background radiation. Further, as more and more dentists are using special high-speed film, thyroid collars and digital X-rays machines, dental X-rays are becoming even safer.

Declining dental X-rays based on unfounded fears regarding radiation exposure removes an important diagnostic tool from a dentist’s repertoire. X-rays are an essential diagnostic tool with dentists relying on them for:

  • exposing hidden dental decay
  • revealing dental abscesses, cysts and tumors
  • showing impacted or extra teeth
  • determining the condition of fillings, crowns, bridges, and root canals
  • locating tarter build-up,finding foreign bodies within the gum or bone, and
  • identifying bone loss from periodontal (gum) disease and whether enough bone for dental implant placements.

Rob Garber, Director of Digital Imaging at DuraPro Health has compiled the following list of common dental procedures. I think you will find it very interesting to compare these procedures to the Radiation Dosage Chart infographic.

Procedure Effective Dose (micro-sieverts)
Intraoral Radiograph (per exposure) < 8.3
Full Mouth X-Ray Series 35-170
Panoramic 9-24
Cephalometric 3-6
Cone Beam CT 68-599

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