In the world that we live in the present day, no matter how hard we try, we can never circumvent radiation. Radiation is all around us, be it natural or artificial.
It has become a part and parcel of our everyday life. Sometimes radiation is in the form of cell phones and wi-fi, airplane flights or sometimes it’s in the form of the sunlight itself.
But the actual concern should lie in its intensity, as it determines how fatal or useful it can be. Treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, etc. are based on it.
For instance, the average annual dose of radiation from both man-made and natural sources for people in the United States is 6.2 millisieverts. Millisieverts are a unit of measurement for the amount of ionizing radiation we absorb. This amount is safe for humans.
Nevertheless, the word “radiation” still triggers an alarm in a lot of people’s heads. Despite all this knowledge about radiation people still tend to ask their dentists if dental x-rays are safe for them and their kids.
Well, they are not only safe but also an essential part of the diagnostic process. Time and again many research works demonstrated the safety of x-rays, nonetheless, misconception and darkness in the mind of people persist.
An intraoral dental x-ray emits.005 millisieverts on average, while an orthodontic panoramic x-ray emits.01 millisieverts on average.
The radiation from the panoramic x-ray is equivalent to a two-and-a-half-hour airplane flight, on which you often travel, and approximately seven times less than living in a concrete building for twelve months.
As you can find out, dental x-rays are only a small part of your annual radiation dose. Furthermore, those figures are based on older film-based x-ray machines. Nowadays, with digital x-rays, you receive up to 80% reduced radiation, making its impact negligible.
This article endeavours to debunk most of the popular myths related to dental x-rays. Let’s move forward with the hope that your mind would be at ease by the time you reach the end of this article.
Myth 1- You require a dental x-ray each time you go to see your dentist.
Reality- If you visit your dentist for any kind of trivial dental issue and you are having good oral health, why would you require a dental x-ray in the first place?
However, if you are already on treatment for an unsteady dental issue and your dentist needs to check your oral health on a regular basis, in that case you may require more frequent x-rays.
Myth 2- Digital dental x-rays induce an unsafe amount of radiation on you.
Reality- Humans do not remain completely radiation-free. Nature emits a little amount of radiation as well as many other things that expose humans to radiation.
Humans are only subjected to 0.005 to 0.01 mSv in dental x-rays on an average scale, whereas the usual dose per person on Earth is 2.4 mSv.
Myth 3- Frequent digital dental x-rays can cause brain tumours.
Reality- An article released in 2012 by Yale University epidemiologists titled “Dental X-Rays and Risk of Meningioma” discovered that dental x-rays raise the chances of meningioma, a benign brain tumour.
According to the researchers, dental x-rays are the primary artificial source of ionising radiation exposure in the United States, a type of radiation linked to an enhanced possibility of brain tumours.
However, the Order of Quebec Dentists disproved the article’s findings a few years back. According to the organisation, this does not establish a link between dental-related ionising radiation and the occurrence or growth of meningioma.
Myth 3- Because teeth are so close to the brain, digital dental X-rays are more dangerous.
Reality- Since the radiation used in a dental X-ray is so negligible; it could be implemented in any area of the body without causing any harm or damage.
Furthermore, the length of time needed to take an X-ray has been reduced due to technological advancements. Radiation can now be fixated as well so that the rays are only given access to the teeth and mouth but surely not brain.
Do you know that cooking with natural gas or flying in an aeroplane exposes you to greater degrees of radioactivity? As a result, there is no need to be concerned if your dentist recommends you to have a dental X-ray.
In addition, Proximity has no direct relationship with cancer risk. However, cumulative radiation exposure to your body is thought to be a risk factor for cancer.
Myth 4- Dental x-rays are one of the reasons for cancer.
Reality- The risk of cancer from dental x-rays is extremely low.
While inordinate exposure to radiation can inevitably cause cancer, as previously stated, a short flight exposes you to the same level of radiation as a dental x-ray.
Because low-dose digital x-rays are used everywhere, you are exposed to far less radiation than with older maxillary and mandibular versions, reducing your danger even further.
Myth 5- X-rays make you radioactive.
Reality- There is no residual radiation.Since X-rays are designed to pass through the body, they do not remain in your body.As a result, it’s absurd to think that you can expose others to radiation following your own examination!
The only way to become radioactive is to consume a radiation source. For the sake of clarity, we should state that certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can acquire radioactive chemicals from the soil.
If you consume these foods, your saliva and a few other bodily fluids will become radioactive, but only in trace amounts.
Myth 6- Dental x-rays may affect your fertility.
Reality- The most amusing myth ever as there is no scientific proof of it. So far, no cases of infertility have been reported as a result of x-rays. X-rays have been shown in studies to have almost no effect on fertility.
Myth 7- Dental x-rays are hazardous for pregnant women.
Reality- Nursing mothers are frequently subjected to a series of tests, which include mammograms and X-rays, to assess their overall health.
Obtaining a dental X-ray on the recommendation of a dentist is no different than having any of these other tests.
Myth 8- Dental assistants and doctors leave the room while you undergo the process. Hence, x-rays are dangerous.
Reality- Exposure to radiation has a compounding impact, and a high long-term dose can be risky.
Patients have one or two x-rays taken during their appointment, and the average person in good health has medical imaging done only a few times a year at maximum.
This is absolutely natural, and as previously stated, you are receiving a fairly minimal amount of radiation.
The medical professionals who take the x-rays, on the other hand, do it numerous times per day, every day.
If they are going to expose themselves to radiation each time, they would receive a dose far exceeding that of the average person. And no prizes for guessing that it would certainly be dangerous.
Myth 9- Dental x-rays are not safe for kids.
Reality- Dental x-rays are not harmful to children.They are, however, more sensitive to radiation exposure than grownups, and because they are smaller, they should receive a lower dose.
More than 80 healthcare organisations collaborated to launch the Image Gently campaign. It is an endeavour intended to ensure that professionals in dentistry and medicine perform “child-size” radiographic examinations on children.
The fundamental precepts include the use of thyroid collars, adjusting the dosage and exposure time to meet the needs of children.
That would be possible if they undergo x-rays only when needed. Not on a frequent basis. Furthermore, it should be done by using the swiftest image receptor possible, ideally digital sensors.
Myth 10- Dental x-rays should be done every year.
Reality- X-rays were routinely taken at all annual dental check-ups a long time back. It was considered normal back then. However, it is not always necessary.
Nowadays x-rays are performed only when there are clear benefits and when the images are crucial for developing a diagnosis.
If your oral health is good and you don’t have any symptoms of gum disease or dental decay, you can likely go more than a year without having x-rays.
Orthodontists must perform them at the start of treatment and occasionally during treatment to ensure that things are going according to the plan, but they are not a routine procedure.
Myth 11- Dental x-rays aren’t really necessary and just enable dentists to make more money
Reality- Dental x-rays are required to diagnose tooth decay, gum disease, tooth position beneath the gum line, and bone conditions.
However, contrary to popular belief, you do not require them every year if you practice good oral health and have no indications of caries or any other oral disease.
Orthodontic x-rays are similar to dental x-rays, except that your dentist will likely require a wider view rather than getting up close and personal with individual teeth.
Dentists use x-rays to study the structure, size, and location of your teeth and jawbone, as well as any underlying conditions that may need to be addressed before starting any kind of dental treatment.
This vital diagnostic information is further used to create a treatment regimen that is tailored to your specific dental needs and yields long-term results.
Should your dentist discover problems that aren’t within the scope of orthodontic treatment, such as abscesses or tumours, he can refer you to a specialist.
Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. True to the words of this idiom, if you don’t possess the complete information, the darkness in your mind prevails. Facts and reasons get clouded by myths.
Hence all the aforementioned information provided must have cleared the cloud on your mind and opened it once again to reason and logic by now.
The comfort, safety, and satisfaction of the patients are of utmost importance to any dental hygienist and professional.
Most of the clinics in the present day use low-dose, state-of-the-art digital radio-graphic equipment for safest, fastest and least invasive treatments, thus exposing their patients, be it young or old, to the lowest possible radiation.
Furthermore, a good dental professional would always explain their treatment plan in detail to their patients prior to its implementation. And they will always encourage you to clear any of your doubts or concerns about x-rays or any other aspects of the treatment plan before undergoing the process.