Dental X-Rays: Why the Benefits Outweigh the Risks

Many of our patients ask about radiation associated with dental X-rays, and our response is always, “The benefits of dental X-rays far outweigh the risks.”

The amount of radiation in a single tooth X-ray is 0.0002 mSv, which stands for the scientific unit of measurement for radiation, millisievert. That’s only .0001 more than the radiation you would get from eating one banana!

The amount of radiation in a full-mouth dental X-ray is 0.09 mSv. In comparison, a 6-hour airline flight would be 0.04 mSv.  So you are exposed to about the same amount of radiation in a full mouth series of dental X-rays as a round trip flight across the United States.  Annual natural background radiation just from going about our normal lives is 3.0 mSv.

Still, some patients further ask if they can skip the X-rays altogether.

“Why would we risk exposing ourselves to radiation at all?” they wonder.

Our response? … “Because of all the amazing benefits of dental X-rays! The diagnostic issues we can discover early and treat far outweigh the small amount of radiation patients are exposed to.”

X-rays are part of a comprehensive examination to identify healthy normal conditions versus pathology.  They are also used during routine checkups to look for changes over time by comparing new X-rays to older X-rays.  They can be used during emergencies to uncover a specific problem.  Silent pathology that does not cause pain is routinely uncovered during routine radiographic evaluations. This allows us early detection and treatment.

The truth of the matter is that X-rays are an essential part of modern dentistry.  We use them to identify issues of bone and teeth.

X-rays can help us evaluate, detect, and diagnose dental issues including but not limited to the following:

  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Bone Loss
  • Tooth abscesses
  • Infections
  • Cysts and other pathologic growths
  • Cancer
  • Fractured teeth
  • Fractured bones
  • Impacted teeth
  • Developmental anomalies
  • Normal growth and development

The alternative to having the X-rays taken is guessing. We don’t guess about your health. Dental X-rays are part of a complete dental examination and are required for a definitive diagnosis.  We want the best for you and your health, and that includes knowing you are cared for at the highest level.  That is why we offer our patients the highest level of diagnostic and preventive care.

When you next visit the office make sure you are up to date on your X-rays and preventive care to avoid any surprises.

Everyday Radiation in Millisieverts Infographic

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