My dentist likes to do xrays once a year, to help in caring for my teeth, but I’m concerned about excessive radiation.  What do you think?



Dear Chevy;

This is a great question, and one we should all think about when we are exposure to radiation or xrays.  Now that it is so simple to take an xray it is easier to get dosed readily without even thinking about it.

In the old days, taking an x-ray was an arduous task, due to the fact making an x-ray image took a lot of technical know-how and required essentially a photographic lab to develop the images.  Now, with computerization, the images are all digital and the pictures can be taken quickly and easily and processed with a standard computer,  making it simple to have radiation given to a person without even thinking about it.

The best way to view your radiation exposure is with this classic radiation graphic

In this graphic, you can see that dental xrays are minimal exposure, amounting to approximately 1/2 the normal background radiation you get in a day, or 1/8th the amount you would get on a plane ride across the country.

Most of the excess radiation we get is from medical x-rays, with a standard CAT scan of the lungs providing a similar dose to that radiation you would get today at Chernobyl, standing on the grounds, and 10 CAT scans would give you the maximum radiation dose allowed a nuclear reactor worker.

So…..limit your x-ray exposure to medical -xrays when you can, and ask for ‘low dose’ CAT scans, if possible; particularly for follow-up scans if they are required.