The professional blog of Doctors Dan Bruce, Steve Bruce, Rosa Pothier and Rob Ririe
Medical vs. Dental Radiation
This article also discusses dental radiographs and exposure. The article states that, "A chest or abdominal CT scan involves 10 to 20 millisieverts, versus 0.01 to 0.1 for an ordinary chest X-ray, less than 1 for a mammogram, and as little as 0.005 for a dental X-ray. Natural radiation from the sun and soil accounts for about 2 millisieverts a year." In relative terms, dental radiographs are some of the safest images that can be used. The risk of not have dental radiographs is that decay or other pathology could be present and cause a large problem if not detected early. That said, I think risk analysis in my patients is very important. If we have a patient who has not had decay for 5 years, has no fillings or simply doesn't want radiographs, then I have a discussion about the risks/benefits of pushing the frequency of the radiographs out longer. But the key is education. Patients must realize that there may be undiagnosed disease if the standard radiograph procedure is not followed.
Finally, digital radiographs do require less radiation than conventional films. This is due to intensifiers in the sensor. Also, digital films do not require environmentally-harmful processing chemicals, making them a great alternative for both patients and the environment.