Are Dental X-rays Safe?

X-rayEquipDr. Dale A. Miles, adjunct professor at the University of Texas, and professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology at the Arizona School of Dentistry, addressed the issue of dental X-rays.

Dr. Miles asked the questions, are dental X-rays safe?

Dr. Miles has determined after many years of research and study, the individualized radiographic exposure of radiation that we are exposed to from dental X-rays is very small compared to our daily exposure from things like, cosmic radiation and naturally-occurring radioactive elements (for example, those producing radon).

The table below compares our estimated exposure to radiation from dental X-ray with other various sources. As indicated below, a millisievert (µSv) is a unit of measure that allows for some comparison between radiation sources that expose the entire body (such as natural background radiation) and those that only expose a portion of the body (such as X-rays).

Annual estimated average effective dose of equivalent received by a member of the population of the United States:

SOURCE                                                                                               Average annual effective dose equivalent

                                                                                                                (µSv)                                     (MREM)

  • Inhaled (Radon & Decay Products)                                  2000                                       200
  • Other Internally Deposited Radionuclides                   390                                         39
  • Terrestrial Radiation                                                              280                                         39
  • Cosmetic Radiation                                                                                270                                         27
  • Cosmogenic Radioactivity                                                   10                                           1
  • Rounded total from natural Sources                               3000                                       300
  • Rounded total from artificial Sources                             600                                         360
  • Total                                                                                              3600                                       360

As a comparison, dental Panoramic X-rays                           6-13

Intraoral X-ray                                                                                   0.005 *(approximate effective radiation dose)

Cone Beam Volume                                                                       43-468

Medical CT maxilla-mandibular volume                                               2100

One can see from the above chart that the amount of radiation from dental X-rays is negligible, very low as a comparison to other sources of exposure.

Dr. Miles pointed out equivalent risks to (Film Base X-rays) or another way of looking at risk, is to look at other related daily activities, that is, situations in which a person has a one in a million risk of dying.

                Risk Situation

  • Living in NY NY for 2 days breathing the pollution increases risk of death to 1/1,000,000
  • Canoeing for 6 minutes
  • Cycling for 10 miles
  • Riding in a car for 300 miles
  • Drinking water in (Miami) for 1 year
  • Smoking 1.4 cigarettes
  • Flying 6000 miles
  • Working in a coal mine for 3 hours
  • Drinking diet soda, 30 cans
  • Living in Denver for 2 months (mile high City)…natural radioactivity

Source: B.L Cohen and I.S. Lee, “Catalogue of risks, Extended and Updates”, Vol. 61, September 1991

Dr. Miles concludes that dental X-rays are safe and should not be a concern for dental patients. As technology change, X-ray equipment continues to develop techniques that improve and limit the amount of radiation exposure.

At Larrondo Dentistry procedures and techniques are in place to provide a safe environment for all our patients.  For example, mandatory use of Thyroid Collars is required on all pregant women and patients who have cancer or have had cancer. Every necessary precaution is in place to protect and in sure the safety of our patients.

Contact Dr. Jorge E. Larrondo for question or concerns you may have concerning X-rays that may be required for your procedure. Larrondo Dentistry is located at 160 S. Santa Fe Street, in Hemet, California. Feel free to call and schedule a consultation with Dr. Larrondo by calling 951- 925-6596.

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