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Are X-Rays Safe?

added on: January 9, 2018

Dental X-ray showing adult jawbone, gums, and teeth with one tooth missing from the bottom

Do you worry about your safety when your dentist suggests you need X-rays? Never fear! There’s no need to be concerned about this common imaging test. In fact, it’s an important diagnostic tool for doctors and dentists.

What Are X-Rays?

X-rays are an imaging test used by physicians to see inside your bones and organs. The painless and quick test sends a beam of radiation throughout your body so your doctor or dentist can see your dense bones and your softer tissues, like fat and muscle.

Why Are X-Rays Taken?

Your dentist or doctor may recommend you get an X-ray so they can check for health issues. This imaging test helps your physician to check your chest for lung infections, blocked blood vessels, an enlarged heart, and even breast cancer. X-rays also allow your physician to examine your abdomen for digestive tract issues, and even swallowed items. Other ailments your doctor may look for include cancer, arthritis, fractures, and osteoporosis. Dentists request X-rays mostly to check for tooth decay and cavities.

How Are X-Rays Taken?

X-rays are taken in your doctor’s or dentist’s office. A technologist will position your body and/or mouth to get the necessary views, using sandbags or pillows to help keep you the position if needed. It’s vital that you stay still while an X-ray is being taken or the picture will not come out clear enough for your doctor or dentist to read the image. The technologist will place a smock or lead vest over the areas of your body that don’t need to be imaged so your radiation exposure is reduced. The image is often ready in a few minutes, but it can take longer if it’s a more complicated procedure.

Are X-Rays Safe?

Now that you understand what X-rays are and what they’re used for, let’s talk about safety. While there is some concern about the safety of X-rays, they are both a necessary and safe imaging test that can help your doctor or dentist diagnose an ailment. People are often concerned about radiation exposure when they talk about X-rays. While there is a correlation between cancer and repeated radiation exposure, X-rays use very low radiation and the benefits far outweigh the very minimal risk. However, if you are pregnant, be sure to tell your physician before you get an X-ray because though the risk of radiation to an unborn child is small, your dentist or doctor might want to consider an alternative imaging test like an ultrasound.

X-rays are a vital part of determining a diagnosis and formulating a treatment plan. We hope this overview has put your mind at ease about the safety of X-rays. We want you to feel comfortable with our treatments and tests because we are dedicated to providing you with the best and safest care.

If you have more questions or want to discuss this further, give us a call!