At Simon Pong Dentistry, we get a lot of questions about dental x-rays from our patients. Questions like: Are x-rays safe? How much radiation do I get from a dental x-ray? How often do I need x-rays? Why do I need x-rays? Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about dental x-rays.
How often should I get dental x-rays?
Frequency depends on the current condition of your mouth and your dental history. Do you frequently get cavities? If you answer yes, then you may require x-rays annually. If you haven’t had a cavity in five years, then you can go years between x-rays.
- Diet. Does your diet include sugar, soft drinks, energy drinks, acidic foods, and/or is it high in carbohydrates? These types of foods and drinks can increase your risk of enamel breakdown and tooth decay.
- Home care. Many patients, both young and elderly, have difficulty cleaning their teeth. In some cases this may be the result of an illness like a stroke or Alzheimer’s.
- Advanced periodontal disease (severe gum disease resulting in bleeding gums and advanced bone loss). Bone loss is measured with a periodontal probe that acts like a ruler and visually illustrates the disease through radiographs. Panorex x-ray is an excellent way to see the entire jaw bone and measure periodontal advancement.
What’s safe for dental x-rays?
- Many countries have adopted the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendation of 20mSv per year.
- Digital x-rays produce a very low level of radiation and are considered safe.
- Pregnancy. X-rays are considered safe during pregnancy, although radiographs are taken only when necessary, or in an emergency situation. A single dose of radiation (one small x-ray) is sufficient. Exposure to larger doses of radiation may cause adverse effects in a developing fetus, however, there is no increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects.
- The average person gets 3mSv per year, which is well below the average recommendation for a safe level. Half of this radiation comes from background radiation, such as natural radiation from radon in the air.
- Dental X-rays, 4 small intra-oral films 0.005mSv
- Panorex dental X-ray 0.01mSv
- Chest X-ray 0.1mSv
- Mammogram 0.4mSv
- Natural radiation exposure 2mSv
- Airline Crew NYC-Tokyo annually 9mSv
- Full body CT scan 10mSv
- Recommended limit for radiation workers every 5 years 100mSV
- Exposed Chernobyl residents 350mSv
- Single dose which could cause radiation sickness, nausea, but not death 1,000mSv
- Fatal within weeks 10,000mSv
Unlike x-rays, cell phones and cordless phones use radio frequency radiation. This radiation is different from x-ray radiation, and it is unknown at this time what the health risks are associated with cell use.
*World Nuclear Association, Radiologinfo.org.
For more information about dental x-rays, or any other dental-related concerns, contact Simon Pong Dentistry.