Why do we take them?
Dental x-rays give valuable information about your teeth and the structures around them. This helps the dentist to make the right diagnosis and give you the right treatment.
What’s an X-Ray?
An x-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation that’s produced when charged particles lose energy. These particles are generated by an x-ray machine and directed through the tissues. They’re recorded onto a film which is developed or onto a sensor, which produces an instant digital image. There are three main types of x-ray that are commonly taken in our practice, which are The Bitewing Radiograph, The Periapical Radiograph, The Panoramic Radiograph (or OPG). We also provide Cone Beam CT scans for more advanced 3D diagnoses.
In our practice we’ve invested in the latest digital x-ray technology, which has significant benefits over conventional film radiographs. These benefits include:
- Reduced radiation dose of up to 90%, compared to conventional film radiographs
- No chemicals required for processing, which is kinder to the environment
- The image is produced virtually instantly on a computer screen
- The image can be manipulated to improve viewing and diagnosis
- The original image can be saved onto the computer along with your records
What are the risks of having an X-Ray?
Virtually everything we do in our daily lives carries some risk; from walking down the stairs to driving the car into work. Although no radiation source is ever 100% safe and even conventional film-based x-rays use only small amounts of radiation, the digital equipment used in our practice uses the latest technology to reduce the amount of radiation even further.
There’s background radiation all around us, which comes from both natural and man-made sources, these include:
- Cosmic rays from outer space
- Radon gas
- Radioactive minerals, which remain from the very early formation of the planet
- Radioactive fallout from man-made sources such as previous nuclear explosions/weapons
- Air Travel
To help you understand the levels of radiation involved and the risk, the examples below compare how much background radiation is equivalent to the following x-rays:
- 2 Standard Bitewing x-rays – 8 hours or a return flight from Spain
- 1 Panoramic x-ray – 28 hours
- 1 Chest x-ray – 160.8 hours
*Source – British Dental Association
Should I have an X-Ray if I’m pregnant?
Although the radiation from a dental x-ray is relatively small, the developing baby in the womb may be more sensitive to radiation and therefore may be at higher risk. If you know or think you may be pregnant then please inform the dentist on your visit. If an x-ray is required the x-ray can be postponed until after the baby is born or if it is urgently required to make a diagnosis, special precautions can be taken to minimise the risk.
Any other questions?
If you have any other questions or concerns over dental x-rays the dentists at the practice will be happy to answer these on your next visit to the practice.