Radiation is a scary word, and here in the dental office we deal with it every day. Most patients are fine with having dental X-rays, but a select few are quite leery of the exposure to radiation.
I found a great paper on the Idaho State Radiation Information Network page, written by Steven D. Rima who is a Board Certified Health Physicist. I think this paper might help put some of these radiation exposure fears in perspective:
“A unit called a “rem” is used to measure radiation. A rem is a large unit . . . so we usually use a millirem (mrem) instead … (It takes 1000 mrem to equal one rem.)
A typical dental x-ray image exposes you to only about 2 or 3 mrem. The National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) says that the average resident of the U.S. receives about 360 mrem every year from background sources.
Some typical sources that may expose you to radiation also include smoke detectors (less than 1 mrem per year), living in a brick house instead of a wood one (about 10 mrem per year due to radioactive materials in the masonry), cooking with natural gas (about 10 mrem per year from radon gas in the natural gas supply), reading a book for 3 hours per day (about 1 mrem per year due to small amounts of radioactive materials in the wood used to make the paper), and even from flying in an airplane (about 5 mrem for one cross-country flight because of the increased altitude.) In fact, you receive about 2 mrem per year from sleeping next to someone! This is because all of us have very small amounts of naturally occurring radioactive materials in our bodies. ” http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/dental.htm
So if you are afraid that a dental X-Ray is too much radiation then you’d better cancel your flight to Europe, sell your brick house, and get rid of that natural gas stove because all of those things give you more radiation exposure than a dental X-ray.
However, if you’d like to catch small dental problems before they become big ones have dental X- rays taken when your dentist recommends them,