How Much Radiation Is In A Dental X-Ray

Many people have negative feelings about radiation, often associating it with harmful things like bombs and cancer. However, radiation, including X-rays, has many beneficial uses, especially in the medical and dental fields.

“How much radiation is in a dental X-ray?” is a common query. Let’s discuss this and all the related concerns.

What Type of Radiation is Dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays are a form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. They are similar to visible light but have more power to penetrate objects, including the human body. While light creates images of the outside world, X-rays create images of the inside of objects, like your body, helping doctors and dentists diagnose and treat various conditions.

How Strong Is Dental Radiation?

Each year, your body naturally gets about 3.1 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation from things like the sun and the earth. A dental x-ray, which gives you about 0.005 mSv, is less than 1.6% of your daily radiation exposure from natural sources. You get the same amount of radiation from sunlight every day.

Kinds of Dental X-Rays and Effective Radiation Doses

Dental X-rays come in different types, each showing different parts of your mouth. They’re divided into two main groups:

  • Extraoral X-rays (jaw and skull)
  • Intraoral X-rays (tooth, root, and bone).

These two groups further contain the following X-rays:

  • Bite-wing: In this method, you bite down on a special piece to check for decay between your teeth and any bone-strengthening changes. It’s also helpful for making sure a dental crown fits properly.
  • Periapical: This x-ray looks for any problems with the root of your tooth and the bone around it.
  • Occlusal: These X-rays show how your teeth grow and where they are in your mouth. Each x-ray shows all the teeth on one side of your upper or lower jaw.
  • Panoramic: This x-ray gives a complete view of your mouth by rotating around your head. It’s great for seeing your teeth grow, finding wisdom teeth, and planning treatments.
  • 3D Radiography: This gives a detailed, 360-degree view of your mouth, making it helpful for planning cosmetic treatments and dental implants. It also shows the structure of your teeth and roots for root canal treatment.

The effective radiation doses include:

  • Intraoral dental X-rays give about 1 to 8 microsieverts (μSv) of radiation.
  • Panoramic X-rays give between 4 to 30 μSv.
  • Cephalometric X-rays give about 2 to 3 μSv.
  • For CBCT scans, smaller scans give 50 μSv or less, while larger scans give around 100 μSv.

How Much Radiation is Too Much

To better understand this, let’s compare it to the ordinary radiation exposure people get yearly. In the USA, it’s about 6.2 mSv. People who work in nuclear jobs get exposed to about 20 mSv of radiation every year.

Doctors can see changes in blood cells at around 100 mSv, which can lead to health problems. In very extreme cases, a dose of 5000 mSv is believed to be fatal for about half the people who get it within a month.

So, when we consider that a dental X-ray gives about 0.005 mSv of radiation, it’s just a tiny amount compared to what we might get from other sources in our daily lives.

Concluding Thoughts

The answer to “How much radiation is in a dental X-ray?” is simple: 0.005 mSv. Therefore, people who need it multiple times a year are also safe from the side effects.

Visit Dr. Ahmad Millwala at Katy Cypress Oral Surgery. Our board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon specializes in treating diseases of the head and neck region. Call us at (281) 667-0607 to book an appointment.

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