One of the most risky diagnostic tools ever invented is the X-ray machine. It really is effective in diagnosing problems but without proper care, the side effects of x-rays can be worse than the original problem meant to be diagnosed by the X-rays. X-rays are dangerous because they expose you to high frequency radiation which is believed to be carcinogenic. Repeated exposure to X-rays has been found to increase the risk of cancer by more than 40% especially in young children.
X-radiation of the lower abdomen has also been found to cause genetic damage which can be passed on onto other generations. It is actually believed that over 5,000 Americans die from X-ray related complications each year. It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise when dental patients question the safety of the X-rays used in hospitals. How safe are the dental X-rays? Should you be worried about repeated exposure to the rays? We talked to a professional who has all the experience needed to answer the question and Dr.Jisoo Shin, DDS was more than ready to answer us.
Dental X-rays are very important
First of all according to Dr.Jisoo Shin, DDS, it is important to acknowledge that fact that X-rays are very effective and important in the diagnosis of common dental problems. They help dentists to detect common dental problems such as gum diseases, cavities before they become too big and even detect bone loss. Without X-rays detecting such problems would be so difficult and these diseases and problems would go unnoticed. More people would be suffer and potentially lose their teeth. We therefore need to appreciate the presence of the X-rays in the medical sphere.
Having seen the positive impacts of the X-rays, it is important to note that they pose even a greater threat if they are not handled with care. This is why dentists and any medical practitioner handling X-rays needs to be extremely cautious.
The X-rays used for dental diagnosis are more than safe. This is because they have been modified to reduce the risks attached to radiation. The rays themselves and machines used in dental diagnosis have been changed significantly to ensure that the use of X-rays is safe and has very little or no significant risk attached to their use. Here are some of the changes that have been made to the X-rays and the machines to render them safe;
- Lower ray doses- One important factor that makes the rays used in dentistry safe to both the patient and the technician, is the fact that the rays are emitted in very small doses. The rays are limited to an area of less than three inches in diameter and very little or no radiation takes place beyond the diameter of the beam.
- Better shielding- X—ray shielding reduces the intensity of the rays to suit the thickness of the material that needs scanning. In dentistry, the x-rays are shielded more to reduce their intensity because the thickness through which the rays need to penetrate is very small. With such shielding, there risk is reduced and the rays are rendered safe.
- Better films- the speed of film used in X-rays determines the amount of time needed for the ray to take good clear images. The higher the speed of film, the less the amount of time needed to obtain a good quality image. The speed of films used in dental x-rays has been greatly improved to reduce the amount of time taken to obtain a good picture. Dentists actually use F-speed films which are the quickest and most efficient to limit the amount of time the patient is exposed to the radiation.
- Digital radiography- Technology has made it possible to reduce the radiation levels by upto 90% through the use of digital x-rays. In digital radiography, digital x-ray sensors are used instead of the traditional photographic films. The former are more time efficient and produce images that can be digitally enhanced. This is the most commonly used technology among dentists in the U.S.
- Lead shields –Before you get X-rayed, there are a number of precautions taken to ensure that you are safe from the radiation. You will be covered from neck to the knees and even be provided with a neck protector to protect the thyroid glands which are very vulnerable. The lead-lined full body apron protects the rest of your body from the rays and only the target area will be touched. This means that you are at no risk at all.
All in all, dental X-rays are very safe. We at Vita Dental Houston for example have taken stringent precautionary measures to ensure that you are always safe when you come in for diagnosis through x-rays. We actually limit the use of x-rays and only employ them when we feel it is necessary for more accurate assessment. You can rest assure that you are always safe in our hands.