Radiation Revealed!

Woman holding tablet with dental x-ray

The pioneers of early research took many unknown risks in developing the best diagnostic tool in modern medicine, and it is from their work that we have learned the truth about radiation; when to use it, and at what levels it is safe. So what is the truth?

Radiation is everywhere. It is all around us, even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, or when you pay your taxes.

What are X-rays, anyway?

Radiation is simply the energy that comes from a source and travels through matter or space. Some examples of radiation are light, heat, and sound. In talking about X-rays, we are specifically talking about electromagnetic radiation.

As a kid, were you ever fascinated by shining a flashlight through your hand? That is essentially what X-rays are, but using different frequencies of a different type of radiation.

Vision works because light bounces off of materials that it can’t pass through. Since x-rays can pass through low-density materials, like your skin and organs, but fails to pass through the high density of your bones, the X-rays that hit them reflect back in the shape of the obstacle they hit.

How dangerous are they?

Patients may have the impression that radiation from x-rays is more dangerous than it really is. As a pediatric dental practice in Flower Mound, we take precautions to limit the amount of radiation patients are exposed to, and this is interpreted as meaning it must be dangerous. Relatively speaking, a normal dental X-ray will give you an “extra” daily dose of what you normally get, or the same as about 20 minutes of tanning.

Here is a chart that shows the radiation of various dental x-ray procedures, compared to tanning.

Dental xrays and tanning comparison

Knowledge is Power

We take precautions because there is no reason not to. We wear rubber gloves and masks, as precautions, too, but that doesn’t mean our office isn’t sanitary.

While absorbing too much radiation can make you sick (or worse), you won’t need your geiger counter at the dentist office. Your dental x-rays give you a lower dose of radiation than you will normally get in a single day of living on this planet.

If you have any questions about x-rays or radiation, feel free to ask us at the office, and we can even send you home with some complementary reading material. We appreciate our patients who like to stay informed and educated.


A Healthy Mouth is a Happy Mouth!

~Dr. Duffy

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