I believe every dentist in the world wish to possess the famous superman’s ability: x-ray vision. Unfortunately x-ray vision only appears in comics. X-rays are used in a lot of dental applications. From checking whether there’s a tooth decay in back molars to verifying the exact angulation and position of a wisdom tooth so the wisdom tooth surgery can go smoothly. It’s very useful in the field of dentistry as well as other fields in medicine. However, I believe most people would still wonder if dental x-rays are really that safe.
There is radiation everywhere in the world. Did you know that even a banana is radioactive? Eating one banana a day for a year gives you roughly about 0.036 mSv (millisieverts, which is the unit we measure radiation with), a six-hour plane flight gives you about 0.018 millisieverts, and 4 bitewing digital dental x-ray gives you about 0.005 millisieverts. Hope that gives you a rough idea of how low the radiation is from dental x-rays.
Dental x-ray isn’t totally risk free, after all it still involves radiation. However, with all the precautions we take (following indication guideline and using appropriate protective lead aprons), the risk is extremely low compare to a lot of other activities.
As much as we would like to reduce the risks for our patients, we just don’t have the ability to see through human body like superman does. Taking necessary dental x-rays for routine dental check-ups and prior to certain dental procedures actually lower the risk for our patients. We need to know where the wisdom tooth is in order to lower the chance of tissue/nerve damage during a wisdom tooth surgery. We also need x-rays to carefully diagnose if there’s an infection or tooth decay going on that’s causing pain and further damage. That’s why in order to receive dental treatment safely, dental x-ray is definitely necessary.