Every time you go to the dentist and get x-rays, they cover you up with a lead apron and the technician leaves the room to take the x-ray. You probably wonder just how much damage is being done to your body each time this happens. The fact of the matter is we’re exposed to radiation in many different ways every day, and this exposure can damage our body’s tissues and cells and can potentially lead to the development of cancer.
With that said, the benefits and risks of radiation are similar to other day-to-day activities that involve some level of risk such as driving a car or riding a bicycle. These are mainly beneficial activities although we do wear our seatbelt while driving and a helmet when cycling. The same is true with dental x-rays, they are mainly beneficial to our health with a relatively low risk of damage, however, we still wear a lead apron to protect ourselves.
Advancements in dental technology over the years have lead to today’s x-rays emitting a very low level of radiation, about .005 millisieverts of radiation (4 bitewing x-rays) according to the American College of Radiology, which is about the same amount of radiation you get in a normal day from the sun and other sources.
The benefit of x-rays is that the dentist is able to see bones, tissue and surfaces of the teeth that cannot be seen without an x-ray and thereby able to detect cavities, bone loss due to gum disease, impacted teeth, etc. If you have a lot of decay or other dental problems it is likely that you will need them more than others. If you are concerned about the potential dangers involved with getting x-rays regularly talk to the dentist so the two of you together can determine the pros and cons and the best course of action for your specific needs.