Dental X-rays are a useful diagnostic tool to help your dentist identify hidden decay between your teeth or beneath old fillings.It is simply another diagnostic test to tell you “if you do or do not have a cavity”

The necessity of having dental X-rays depend on many factors including how much dental work you’ve had in the past, your current condition and if you have any signs or symptoms of dental decay.

Early intervention might help save a tooth or minimize extensive treatment.

But how safe are dental X-rays?

Radiation constantly rains down on us from outer space. Natural background radiation exposure accounts for an average of 3.1 mSv/yr with variations depending on where you live and how much time you spend outdoors. For a routine exam which includes 4 bitewings is about 0.005 mSv, which is less than one day of natural background radiation. It is also about the same amount of radiation exposure from a short airplane flight (~1-2 hrs). A lead apron minimizes the exposure to the abdomen and should be used when any dental radiograph is taken. Other strategies used to reduce exposure include computerized radiographs, smaller views(collimation) and smaller time of exposure .

Overall,the amount of radiation you get from dental X-rays is relatively small especially when compared with the radiation you receive from the natural background sources.Therefore dental radiographs are considered safe integral part of nearly every new patient exam.