Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

As consumers become conscious of hazards in their environment, steps are being taken to reduce risk. However, one area where concern is largely unnecessary is dental X-rays. The dental profession has worked diligently to establish standards of practice that allow use of this crucial technology safely. Dental X-rays can be extremely useful to your dentist and make treatment plans much easier to implement.



Why Are Dental X-Rays Necessary?

Dental X-rays provide dentists with a crucial “inside view” of your mouth, allowing them to detect infections and tooth fractures that are invisible to the naked eye and to check the health of your gums. Dentists often use different types of X-rays to check the status of your teeth and gums from a variety of angles. Some of the most common types of dental X-rays include:

  • Bitewing, which look at how the crowns of your teeth line up and check for tooth decay between your teeth
  • Occlusal, which check the alignment of your upper and lower rows of teeth
  • Panoramic, which can check the health of your wisdom teeth, help the dentist plan their strategies for dental restorations, or look more closely at jaw problems

If you don’t have copies of earlier dental X-rays, your provider may take several types of images for a comprehensive view of your mouth.

How Your Dentist Protects You From Dental X-Ray Risks

Dental X-ray equipment and the protocols for using it have been designed following the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principle. Some ways your dental team protects you from radiation include having you wear a lead vest to protect your thyroid, chest and vital organs, and using digital dental X-rays, which further reduce your risk of exposure.

One note related to X-ray safety concerns: if you are or may be pregnant, let your dentist know before X-rays are taken. Oftentimes, imaging can be bypassed to protect your developing baby.

“Every patient has the right to be fully informed about the risks and benefits of dental X-rays,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix and founder of Dr. Carol Ford & Associates. “Our practice is happy to answer any questions about why we take X-rays and the steps we take to ensure your safety.”


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