Happy 2020, everyone! It’s a new year, which means many of our patients have renewed benefits and can begin the rounds of regular check-ups. The benefits for x-rays have most likely been renewed as well! Of course, we do get patients who refuse x-rays at their appointment. The most common reasoning behind doing so is not to be exposed to the radiation that comes with them. This month’s blog is all about the importance of x-rays and the radiation we are exposed to every day.

The Basics

X-rays allow medical professionals to see the bones and the surrounding tissues. With teeth having 2/3 of their structure under the surface of the gums, it’s incredibly important for the dentist to have x-rays taken during regular and emergency appointments. Dr. Olsen finds many abscesses in need of treatment via x-ray, which can otherwise be difficult to see at the surface. But just how much radiation is in an x-ray?

The Science

To understand radiation, we need to talk about millisieverts. Millisieverts (mSv) are defined as the “average accumulated background radiation dose to an individual for one year, minus radon, in the United States,” (radiologyinfo.org). So walking outside in the sunshine or sleeping in your home brings constant exposure to radiation in some form. On average, a person experiences about 3 mSv a year. Dental x-rays give off about .005-.009 mSv. In layman’s terms, getting x-rays at the dentist is equivalent to about 1 day of regular human activity with cosmic and background radiation. Check out the chart below provided by International SOS for a reference on different levels of exposure.Image result for millisieverts exposure daily life

X-rays allow a more accurate diagnosis for your dental care and treatment. Overall it helps provide the doctor with the most information on what’s happening under the gums, and has minimal radiation exposure compared to other x-rays and daily life. We hope this information helps you the next time you have an appointment with us! For more information on x-rays and radiation, visit the Harvard Health Publishing Website, or Radiologyinfo.org.