Is Dental X-Ray Exposure Safe?
- Dental Assistant
- November 5, 2018
- 531 views
- 3 min read
Dental x-rays are a key part of dental checks and are vital to spotting and treating dental conditions that might not be immediately obvious by sight checks alone. However, its common knowledge that radiation is harmful to the human body and a dental assistant might be called upon to conduct thousands of x-rays over their career, so is dental x-ray exposure safe?
Why Are Dental X-rays Necessary?
Not all dental issues are timely obvious and dental x-rays are an excellent way for dentists to examine areas and tissues that a standard oral exam cannot get too. Using an x-ray allows a dentist to see the roots of the teeth, check for cavities, abscesses, and tumors and see how undescended teeth are progressing in young children.
How Does A Dental X-ray Work?
In order to produce an x-ray picture, the x-ray machine produces a very concentrated beam of electrons, known as x-ray photons. This beam of x-ray photons travels through the air, comes in contact with the patient’s body and the hits the metal film plate behind it.
Because soft tissue, such as skin and organs, cannot absorb the x-ray photons, the beam passes through them. Dense materials like bones, metal, and teeth absorb the radiation. When the beam of x-ray photons hits the metal film, it causes it to blacken in all areas except for where the beam was blocked by denser materials, leaving a very accurate white image of bones and teeth.
Does A Dental X-ray Give Off Radiation?
Yes. Dental x-rays give off a very small amount of radiation, but it’s so minute that it is almost insignificant. You are exposed to far more radiation on a particularly sunny day or while taking a high altitude flight for 1-2 hours.
Do Dental Assistants Need To Protect Themselves From X-ray Radiation?
Not any more than the training received to use x-ray machines suggests. Of course, any machine that emits radiation should be used with caution, but the amount of radiation is really very small and is tightly directed at the patient.
Using an x-ray machine, even repeatedly, shouldn’t be any concern for a dental assistant. As long as they are using the machine in the correct manner and not taking unnecessary risks, a dental x-ray machine is no more dangerous to a dental assistant than any other piece of dental equipment.
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