If you have been following the news lately, you may have heard reports warning people about limiting their exposure to x-rays as much as possible. Limiting x-rays and other radiographic studies lowers the amount of radiation you are exposed to, and may reduce your risk of certain cancers. These reports may have made you wonder if receiving x-rays when you go to the dentist are safe, or if they put you at any increased risk. This article will discuss dental x-rays and ways to help limit your radiation exposure.
When you go for your routine dental examinations, your dentist or hygienist may take some x-rays of your teeth. These x-rays are sometimes called ‘bitewings’. These side view x-rays are very small, and require a minimal amount of radiation.
Prior to taking the x-ray the hygienist or assistant will cover your neck, breast and stomach with an apron that is lined in lead. This will prevent any ‘stray’ x-ray beams from entering your body in susceptible areas. The assistant steps outside the room to limit his or her exposure.
If you are pregnant, please inform the assistant prior to the x-ray being taken. Depending on the angle of the x-ray machine, additional protections may be warranted, or the dentist may decide to wait until after you deliver just to be extra careful.
The American Dental Association recommends receiving dental x-rays as part of your routine oral health care. The amount of radiation exposure is limited and should not present a problem. If you are concerned about your radiation exposure, talk to your dentist prior to receiving the x-rays.
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