The Honest Truth About Radiation From Dental X-Rays

How is radiation measured?

Radiation is measured in units called Sieverts. Because of the small amount of radiation emitted during dental x-rays, it is measured in MicroSieverts (one millionth of a Sievert). Many patients are concerned about the amount of radiation we get from dental x-rays, so we’d like to give you something to compare this to.

table comparing radiation from x-rays to other sources of radiation
*We are exposed to more background radiation everyday than the amount in one digital bitewing.
*Just flying in an airplane exposes us to as much radiation as a full Set of digital bitewings.
*One chest CT is equivalent to getting 1,400 digital bitewings.

Christina taking an x-ray on a patient

How much radiation is significant?

Doses of radiation below 100,000 MicroSieverts indicates that risks of health effects are either too small to be observed or are nonexistent. The bitewing x-rays we take are only 0.03% of this amount! The potential health risk from dental x-rays is far outweighed by the benefit of early cavity detection the x-rays give us.

We consider your personal risk factors when deciding which type and how often you should receive X-rays. We also use exclusively digital X-ray sensors, which reduce radiation exposure by up to 75%. When administered appropriately, dental X-rays provide us with a safe, accurate way to diagnose dental disease.

What about lead aprons?

Digital x-rays use far less radiation than traditional x-rays. We follow the recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health, and lead aprons are not required for dental x-rays.  We recognize that every patient’s situation is unique and therefore, we keep lead aprons and thyroid collars available for use upon request.