WHY DOES MY DENTIST NEED X-RAYS?, and ARE DENTAL X-RAYS A HEALTH RISK?
ANSWER: Dental X-rays are a very critical segment of a comprehensive oral examination and without them a dentist can easily miss areas of decay (dental caries) , periodontal disease, root deformities or infections, bone disease, cysts, or tumors as well as anatomic abnormalities. Missing these could mean losing bone, losing teeth, needing major dental care or root canals that could be avoided, impact on your overall health, or even life threatening infections or other pathology. Dental x-rays are safe and are a benefit to maintaining health rather than a risk. It would take 600 regular dental X-rays to equal what a person living a sea level receives in a year from just the normal environment and at TLC Dental where we use the newest digital X-rays the amount of radiation is reduced another 80%, so that would mean in our office it would take 3000 dental X-rays to equal what everyone at sea level gets from just normal day to day living in one year. For comparison look at relative amounts of radiation. According to the National Research Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements , the Scientific American and even Dr. Oz the normal background radiation we receive annually from just the environment is 3000 microsieverts at sea level and it could be double this if we live in Colorado, the amount you would receive from a CT Scan of the Abdomen and Pelvis is 15,000 microsieverts the amount we would get if we smoke a pack of cigarettes a day from the polonium is them is 160,000 microsieverts, and the amount from a dental X-ray is only 5 microseiverts!!!! One point I want to make is that there are many people who live at high altitudes like in Colorado who live healthy lives, live to 100 years old or more and who receive the equivalent of getting a full series of dental X-rays every day of their life just from normal everyday background radiation. It is most important to understand that any health risk from dental X-rays is far outweighed by the benefits of avoiding the health risks of missing the early diagnosis of dental disease or other conditions in the jaws or teeth.