Can X-Rays Increase Your Risk of Cancer?

Whether we like it or not, most of us will need x-rays at some point in our life. In the dental field, they help us detect issues that aren’t visible to the naked eye and help us coordinate oral surgery. 

However, how do modern x-rays compare to older x-rays that emitted more radiation? Read on in this blog from a dentist near you to find out if x-rays are harmful and what precautions are taken in the dental office.

Is It Harmful to Get Frequent X-Rays?

While it is true that x-rays emit radiation, modern digital x-rays emit far less radiation than the x-rays used in the past. Radiation, in high doses, can damage cells and lead to cancer. 

However, clear direct links between radiation and cancer are only found in abnormal situations where a person was exposed to very high levels of radiation for long periods, such as those exposed to nuclear waste, atomic weapons, or those treated with high rates of radiation to treat cancer.

We are regularly exposed to background radiation that is naturally occurring in the earth’s minerals every day. Things just as airplanes, cell phones, cigarettes, water, and the sun all expose us to radiation.  

Know the Risk

As you can see from the list above, it would be impossible to eliminate our exposure to all radiation. However, limiting radiation exposure can prevent health complications such as cancer. In the past, dentists used film x-rays to diagnose oral health issues. 

However, this is hardly used anymore and has been replaced with digital x-rays. Modern x-rays produce 90% less radiation than traditional x-rays, greatly reducing your radiation exposure. We also use x-rays much more intentionally now. We have ADA guidelines to follow that prohibit excessive x-ray use. 

As dentists, we will only resort to x-rays when it is necessary and avoid using them as much as possible. Whereas x-rays used to be taken routinely every year, this is now considered unnecessary. Routine x-rays may now be taken once every 3 years. 

Dental x-rays emit much less radiation than other regular sources of radiation. A dental x-ray is less than 1.6% of the natural background radiation we will be exposed to each day. This is why it’s important not to completely avoid x-rays, as they are useful and important preventative tools that can save you time and money on oral health problems that can be avoided.

How You Are Protected

We always take precautions to keep you safe and protected when administering any type of dental x-ray. We will ask you if you are pregnant before prescribing an x-ray. 

We recommend that pregnant women wait until they have given birth unless it is unavoidable. Lead aprons and collars are placed over the abdomen and neck to protect these regions from radiation exposure.

X-Rays Are Low Risk When Used Cautiously

As long as you don’t get frequent x-rays that emit high rates of radiation all the time, you’re unlikely to experience any problems. As dental professionals, we are required to put your health and safety as our priority, so we will never push for unnecessary x-rays. 

However, x-rays can also reduce the need for invasive procedures and can reduce your risk of developing serious oral health issues. Contact us at BayBreeze Dental today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ronak Parikh.

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