Dental radiography: A risk-free necessity
X-ray images of your teeth allow your dentist to give the most precise diagnosis on the state of your mouth. They are an essential complement to the visual exam conducted and help identify:
- the presence of dental caries;
- the evolution of gum diseases;
- the presence of abscesses, cysts or tumours;
- the precise location of impacted teeth.
In dentistry, the most commonly used types of radiography are:
What radiation dosage am I exposed to during a full dental exam?
First of all, let us establish that radiation was not created by Man; it has always existed in nature, in the rays of the sun, for instance. Composed of carbon 14 and potassium 40, among other things, the human body is in itself a walking radioactive unit.
For a body to become radioactive, it must be exposed to at least 10 million electron volts energy. A dental clinic X-ray machine releases a maximum of 90,000 electron volts. When two dental radiographs are taken, as it is often the case during a typical exam, the radioactive dosage is of about 20 mrem (rem is the measuring unit for absorbed doses of radiation). The maximum allowed for the general public is 500 mrem per year, and 5,000 mrem for people working with radiation, such as your dental hygienist or your dentist.
In short, two X-ray images = 20 mrem, which is equivalent to:
- Spending the day outside;
- Drinking a glass of wine;
- Smoking a cigarette.
The dosage absorbed by your body, which is protected by a lead apron, is of a mere 0.05 mrem… Such a dose is equivalent to eating a few bananas, or Brazil nuts.
Remember that your dental hygienist and dentist are trained to safely operate an X-ray machine. They know which techniques and procedures to use in order to minimize your exposure to radiation.