Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental Exam

Do I really need dental x-rays?

Yes, you do! Dental x-rays are an essential component of routine dental care because they allow your dentist to ensure no new cavities have developed, no infections are present, and no problems with the roots and other parts of your teeth exist. Most patients will need dental x-rays at least once per year, but those with gingivitis, periodontal disease, diabetes, and other health concerns may require them more often to ensure any carious lesions or bacterial infections are caught early.

How do x-rays work?

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation used to create an image on a metal slide. When x-rays pass through the body, they create a detailed image due to the fact that the rays pass directly through the soft tissues of the body while they are absorbed by bone, organs, and more dense structures. This allows healthcare providers to view dense masses such as tumors, bone breakages and fractures, ruptured organs, and more.

Do x-rays cause cancer?

Gamma rays and x-rays have been shown to cause cancer only in extremely high doses, doses that you would never receive in a dental office. No studies have been able to find a link between preventative dental x-rays and an increased risk of cancer, which is why dental x-rays are considered safe.

Are dental x-rays dangerous?

Dental x-rays are not considered dangerous because the minimal radiation exposure from dental x-rays has not been linked to an increase risk of cancer. The amount of radiation exposure sustained during a dental x-ray is less than that received during an airplane flight or a high-altitude ski trip. It’s recommended that both children and adults receive dental x-rays periodically to diagnose and treat caries,  and to prevent serious health complications caused by infection and periodontal disease. Some bacterial infections dental x-rays are intended to find can indeed cause serious illnesses and even death.

What is it like to get a dental x-ray?

When it’s time for your dental x-ray, you will be asked to stand in front of an x-ray machine, or sit comfortably in a chair. The dental hygienist will then place a lead apron over your thyroid and chest, and a small device will be placed inside your mouth to create the x-ray image. This process typically takes no longer than five to ten minutes.

Where can I get a dental x-ray?

Most dental providers offer dental x-rays. If you live in the Memphis area, you can schedule an appointment with Memphis Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry for your routine dental x-rays.



This article was reviewed by Dr. Miles Moore of Memphis Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Moore is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists who has received extensive training in implant dentistry. He is a member of multiple dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Academy of General Dentistry, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Memphis Dental Society.

Posted by Miles Moore at 3:26 PM
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