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Fears about Dental Radiation

Recently it seems as though more and more people have been fearful over the amount of radiation exposure from dental x-rays. Dental offices do minimize the exposure of radiation to patients it is still best to get all the pertinent information. At Practical Dental Assisting of Oregon students must take a full mouth set of x-rays on a patient to send to DANB in order to get their radiology certification. The same precautions taken in dental offices are taken at Practical Dental Assisting of Oregon as well.
Recently in an article published by AEGIS Communications in Inside Dental Assisting magazine, AEGIS spoke to the fear of patients in regards to dental radiation. The article recognized that the average annual radiation exposure from natural sources in the U.S. is roughly 3.1 millisieverts, of which no negative health effects have been found from these levels. Radiation from medical and dental sources make up about 48% of the total radiation exposure per year. Also according to the American Dental Association dental x-rays account for about 2.5% of the total medical radiographs and fluoroscopies.
Furthermore with advances and changes in technology the amount of radiation from x-rays is continually decreasing. Currently intra oral radiographs use a quarter of 1% of the radiation that was necessary for these radiographs 90 years ago.
As a dental assistant and as a patient you should be cognizant of whether or not the office you work at or go to has good radiologic practices, some of these include:
  • use the fastest image receptor compatible with the diagnostic task
  • proper exposure and processing techniques
  • use of appropriate radiation shielding (lead apron, thyroid shields, etc.)
  • limit the number of images obtained to the minimum necessary to obtain diagnostic information
The moral of the story is that the average annual radiation exposure has not caused adverse health effects, but you should still be aware of the x-rays that are being taken to ensure they are not being taken in excess.
To read the full article from Inside Dental Assisting click here.

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