Page Dental recently had its inspection from The State of Texas Department of State Health Services. This department inspects our x-ray units and all of the protocols that we have in place regarding how we take and process x-rays. We passed with flying colors. So, with radiation safety on our radar, I thought I would discuss the topic on our blog.
X-rays, when taken in conjunction with a clinical exam, can help dental professionals see things like otherwise hidden decay, gum disease, bone loss, abscesses or cysts, rare diseases in the bone, developmental abnormalities, and some types of tumors. They can help us identify diseases and developmental problems before they become serious issues. For instance, if we catch a small cavity between the teeth that can be filled, we can do a conservative filling, as opposed to having to do a root canal and crown or, worse yet, having to extract the tooth and place an implant.
Before we make the determination for dental radiographs, we weigh the benefits against the risk of exposing a patient to x-rays by taking into account your health history, age, and your vulnerability to oral disease.
Page Dental also minimizes patient exposure to radiation by following the ALARA Principle (“as low as reasonably achievable”) and ensure the following procedures are followed:
- Using the fastest image receptor for the task (fastest film speed or digital speed)
- Collimating the beam (reduction in the size of the beam to the size of the image receptor)
- Using proper exposure and processing techniques
- Using appropriate radiation shielding (lead aprons and thyroid shields)
- Limiting the number of images obtained to the minimum necessary for diagnostic purposes
We are exposed to radiation every day from appliances in our homes, minerals in the soil, airplane travel, and cell phones. The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements has estimated that the mean effective radiation dose from all sources in the US is 6.2 millisieverts (mSv) per year – about 3.1 mSv of this dose is from natural sources and about 3.1 mSv is from man-made sources. An adult’s effective radiation dose from one intra-oral x-ray is .005 mSv , which is comparable to natural background radiation for 1 day.
According to the ADA, dental radiographs account for only 2.5% of the effective dose received from medical radiographs and fluoroscopies. You would have to get 27 full mouth sets of digital x-rays (486 x-rays in total) to equal 2 chest x-rays.
So, whether dealing with radiation safety or any other dental procedures, you can rest assured that our focus is your health.
by Lynette Page, DDS, FAGD, MA