Dentist Castle Rock Provides Dental X-Ray AnswersBy
Dentist Castle Rock Provides Dental X-Ray Answers
Dentists are aware of the possible dangers associated with X-rays and bear this in mind when they recommend X-rays to patients. Our exposure to radiation is now seven times higher than it was in the 1980s. While most of that comes from CT scans, body X-rays, mammograms, and other forms of medical imaging, there’s another common source of radiation you could be getting every six months when you go in for a teeth cleaning. Just the mention of the word “radiation” conjures up an unpleasant image for most people. Both can make an image on photographic film, so both types of energy are used to make pictures; light makes photographs of the “outside” of objects, x-rays make pictures of the “inside” of objects, including your body. Some associate it with bombs, cancer, and all manner of other bad things. But do you know that there are many beneficial uses of radiation? One type of radiation, x-rays, are used extensively in the medical and dental professions to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions. Just how much radiation do you get from a dental x-ray and how harmful is it? First, let’s talk about what an x-ray is says Dentist Castle Rock. X-rays are energy in the form of waves, identical to visible light. In fact, the only difference between light and x-rays is that light doesn’t have enough energy to go through your body and x-rays do.
A unit called a “rem” is used to measure radiation. A rem is a large unit, much like a mile is a large unit of length, so we usually use a millirem (mrem) instead, much as you would measure in inches instead of miles for most purposes. (It takes 1000 mrem to equal one rem.) X-rays are a form of energy that’s absorbed in your body. F-speed film is the fastest form of standard film and exposes you to the lowest levels of radiation, while D-speed film is the slowest and exposes you to the highest, 1.75 microsieverts of radiation compared to F-speed’s 0.7 microsieverts. “I don’t know why they haven’t taken out of the market,” says Dr. Benavides. “It really should be replaced.” She adds that E-speed film has been taken off the market, but some dentists may be using up old stockpiles. Dr. Shenkin says that digital film is even better, given that’s it’s faster even than F-speed film. But it’s less available, because digital photo equipment requires a huge up-front investment explains Dentist Castle Rock. The ADA recommends that children with cavities get one every 6 to 12 months, but those without dental decay need X-rays every 12 to 24 months. They do recommend that new patients all have X-rays, so don’t balk if a new dentist sends you to the chair. In that case, if you’re uncomfortable with the radiation exposure, you can ask your previous dentist to send over your most recent X-rays prior to your first visit. Both the American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration have issued guidelines for how often adults and children should be getting X-rays, and if you’re a healthy adult without many risk factors, you could need a dental X-ray as infrequently as every three years.
Advances in x-ray equipment, especially film technology, allow your dentist to get a good x-ray image using much less radiation than was previously required. A typical dental x-ray image exposes you to only about 2 or 3 mrem. The National Council on Radiation Protection says that the average resident of the U.S. receives about 360 mrem every year from background sources. This comes from outer space, radioactive materials in the earth, and small amounts of radioactive material in most foods we consume. Dentistry has made great advances in lowering the radiation dose administered. For example, in the 1930s and 1940s, the irradiating cone, which emits the radiation, was huge, covering most of the head and neck. Now, the diameter of the cone is very small, less than 3 inches, so radiation is only pointed at the small spot where the X-ray film is located in your mouth explains Dentist Castle Rock. Also, in the past, the exposure lasted several seconds, whereas now, the exposure times are set at tenths of seconds.
Large amounts of radiation have been shown to be associated with cancer and changes in chromosomes. In the head and neck, areas exposed to dental radiation, X-rays increase the risk of damage to or cancer of the lens of the eye, thyroid, salivary glands, bone marrow and skin. No one knows the exact effects of low-dose radiation, which is the type used in dental X-rays. However, the effects of radiation exposures are cumulative, meaning the effects depend on the total amount you have absorbed in your life. The small amount of radiation exposure that a patient receives from dental X-rays has never been proven to cause cancer of the lens of the eye, thyroid, salivary glands, bone marrow or skin. Nevertheless, every little bit counts. You’re probably used to your dentist putting a lead apron over you before shooting any X-rays, but he or she may not provide you with a lead thyroid collar say Dentist Castle Rock. The ADA recommends that a thyroid collar be used on everyone, but specifically on women of childbearing age, pregnant women, and children, because studies have shown that repeated dental X-rays can increase your risk for thyroid cancer.