Basically, while dental x-rays expose you to certain radiation, the benefits of doing them outweigh the risks. The risk of a single dental x-ray is very small. However, some studies show a slight increase in the risk of cancer, even with low levels of radiation exposure, especially in children. To be safe, we do everything we can to keep radiation exposure as low as possible.
Radiation exposure builds up over time, so people should avoid excessive x-rays if possible. Annual dental x-rays are not dangerous. If a patient has a medical condition that requires frequent x-rays, they should notify their dentist. Exposure to any type of radiation can be harmful.
Fortunately, the radiation dose you're exposed to during dental x-rays is minimal, and the damage and illness they can help you avoid is significant. A single digital dental x-ray has approximately 0.1 mrem of radiation and a set of 4 bites has approximately 0.4 mrem. To gain perspective, a single digital dental x-ray has 0.1 mrem of radiation and a set of 4 bites has 0.4 mrem. The type and frequency of dental x-rays depend on the patient's needs, which are determined based on clinical examination and risk factors.
Many people think x-rays are dangerous, but x-rays are among the safest and most reliable imaging technologies today. For most people, an exam every 6 months is sufficient, but the frequency of visits and x-rays will depend on your dental needs and your dentist will guide you according to your personal hygiene. In addition, there is no need to delay dental x-rays if you are trying to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Dental x-rays are an important part of every dentist's toolkit for detecting cavities and other problems in a patient's mouth.
Dentists quickly realize that there are multiple sources of radiation in your daily life that expose you to higher levels, over a year, than a dental x-ray. To put dental x-rays into perspective, let's compare them to other environmental sources of radiation. Usually, if you choose a new dentist or haven't visited them for a long time, x-rays are an essential part of an initial exam that establishes a dental reference point, to be compared as time goes on. Dental x-rays are used to diagnose diseases affecting teeth and bones, because the inside of these structures is not visible when dentists look at your mouth.
X-rays are a very common dental procedure that allows the dentist to look deep inside the gums, including the bones, the roots of the teeth, and through tooth enamel. To put dental x-rays into perspective, let's place them next to other environmental radiation sources and see how they compare. Under Level 1 restrictions, ALL DENTAL SERVICES CAN BE PROVIDED (as long as the dental office applies standard precautions to people who do not meet epidemiological and clinical risk factors for transmission of COVID-19 infection).