Radiation During Dental X-rays

Are you among the many people who avoid the dentist because you’re worried about radiation exposure when getting dental X-rays? Does even the word “radiation” make you uneasy? If so, you’re not alone—but you are misinformed.

Many people feel nervous about radiation, and for good reason. Even just hearing the word itself brings to mind such things as bombs, cancers, burns, and even deaths. What many people don’t know is how often they are exposed to radiation each day and how there’s nothing to fear from it. The radiation which you are exposed to during dental X-rays is no exception.

What is an X-ray?

X-rays are simply waves of energy, just like visible light. The difference between X-rays and light is X-rays have enough energy to go through your body and light doesn’t. Think about it this way: X-rays make photographs of the inside of something, including our bodies, and light makes pictures of the outside of something.

Measuring Radiation

Radiation is measured in rems. Because a rem is such a large unit, radiation is more commonly measured in millirems (mrems). There are 1,000 millirems in one rem. To give you an idea of how much one millirem is, think about taking a flight from New York City to Los Angeles. This is common enough, right? Well this activity exposes you to 5 mrems each leg of the trip.

Radiation in Dental X-rays

So how much radiation are you exposed to during a dental X-ray? On average, you are exposed to only about 2 to 3 mrem. When comparing this to the average amount of radiation a person is exposed to annually, which according to The National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) is 360 mrem, the amount of radiation you’re exposed to during a dental X-ray is minimal—insignificant even.

 Everyday Exposure to Radiation

The following list comprises daily activities that expose you to radiation. Who would have thought?

  • Living in a brick house
  • Sleeping next to someone
  • Eating certain foods
  • Flying on an airplane
  • Reading a book for 3 hours at a time
  • Being near a smoke detector
  • Cooking with natural gas

If you wouldn’t stop sleeping next to your partner or reading a book for 3 hours straight, then don’t stop seeing the dentist, either. The small amount of radiation you are exposed to during dental X-rays is insignificant when considering the advantage Dr. DeFinnis has in understanding the underlying structures of your mouth. Dental X-rays help with accurate diagnoses and treatment planning. Call Back Mountain Dental today at (570) 763-4360 to schedule your next appointment. Our dentist office is located near Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, PA.

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