Now and then, we hear from patients who want to know if dental X-rays are truly safe.

Various media outlets will also create fear in the public with reporting on some “new study” that shows the amount of radiation exposure they receive during a dental X-ray to be harmful. What these stories tend to ignore is that there are well-established standards and best-practices for performing dental X-rays and, if your dental health professional is conforming to these standards, your risk is virtually non-existent.

According to the latest information available, shown here in a Radiation Chart at, which is sponsored by the American College of Radiology, when performed properly, a dental X-ray contains the same amount of radiation that you would experience naturally in a single day. The risk factor therefore, is “negligible.” In other words, an X-ray in your dentist’s office is the same as living one day in sunlight. No big deal.

Dental X-ray Standards and Practices

In April 2012, the American Dental Association (ADA) responded to a study of the effects of dental X-rays relative to increased incidents of a particular type of brain tumor. The ADA concluded that the study was flawed, in both its approach and its conclusions. From their response…

“Since 1989, the ADA has published recommendations to help dentists ensure that radiation exposure is as low as reasonably achievable… As part of the ADA’s recommendations to minimize radiation exposure, the ADA encourages the use of abdominal shielding (e.g., protective aprons) and thyroid collars on all patients. In addition, the ADA recommends that dentists use E or F speed film, the two fastest film speeds available, or a digital x -ray.” (ADA Press Release)

Beyond these standards, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also publishes standards and guidelines for the use of dental X-rays. Again, when these standards and guidelines are followed, the risk of patient exposure is negligible.

A properly trained and ethical dental health professional will never expose patients to excessive levels of exposure by performing unnecessary dental X-rays. Only in extreme and rare cases, where a patient is at risk of severe tooth decay for example, will a dental patient require X-rays more than once a year.

The safest approach for you, if you’re concerned about the amount of exposure you or your family have received, is to voice your concerns to your dentist and ask if the X-rays are truly necessary.

For dental implants in Colorado, Dr. Maroney and staff at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems. If you would like more information from your Littleton area Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.

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