Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

X-Rays From Our Perspective

A History of Digital X-Rays

X-rays are critical to the practice of dentistry. And the benefits are profound. But dentists are sometimes guilty of dismissing patient concerns, as in, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

We do believe the judicious use of X-rays is in our patients’ best interests. But patients deserve to know why.

Radiography begins

Wilhelm Roentgen, fiddling around with electricity and photographic plates one day in 1895, found a wave that could photograph the invisible. When he realized he was seeing the bone inside his arm, he took a closer look at this mysterious “X” ray.

In New Orleans, just days after the discovery was made, a dentist Edmund Kells ordered equipment to build the first X-ray in America—for use in his dental practice.

From the very beginning, dentists have guided the evolution of radiography. We know it well.

How X-rays work

Most of us have experienced X-rays at the dentist’s office. A ray of photons is emitted by that familiar cylinder (or cone) placed on the cheek, and the film is held inside the mouth to receive the image.

Bone and teeth absorb more photons than soft tissue, so their image is captured with clarity.

The amount of energy absorbed by oral tissue is a “dose” of radiation.

Just how much radiation?

There is, of course, radiation everywhere. We’re bombarded with cosmic radiation, and natural radioactive elements pepper the earth’s surface.

The unit of measurement for X-rays is called, aptly enough, a roentgen®. It’s been determined that 10r is a permissible dosage for the first 30 years of life. Full mouth X-rays rack up 0.0025r. Based on these numbers, if you had 4000 full-mouth X-rays, you’d be crazy, but you’d be healthy.

While we wish we could achieve zero exposure, there is no known alternative to X-rays for diagnosis in dentistry.

We work with X-rays every day—they are our “eyes.” There would be a very different kind of dentistry without them.

Exposure to dental X-rays as compared to other sources

Lower GI X-ray series †0.85r
Upper GI X-ray series 0.64r
Radium dial wristwatch, worn 15 years 0.05r
1 Chest X-ray 0.01r
Full-mouth Dental X-rays 0.0025r
   

You Might Also Enjoy...

4 Warning Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Root canals are a common dental procedure. But what are they exactly, and how do you know you need one? Keep reading to spot the signs of a dental problem and how this treatment can help.

What to Do About Missing Teeth

A lost tooth does more than affect your smile, it can also jeopardize your oral health, weaken your jawbone, and alter your bite. Fortunately, you can avoid these serious complications and restore your smile at the same time with these solutions.

The Health Benefits of Straighter Teeth

Think the only reason to get straighter teeth is to make your smile picture perfect? While that’s certainly a major bonus, the benefits don’t stop there. Keep reading to see how your tooth alignment can impact your overall health.

5 Reasons to Consider Professional Teeth Whitening

Thinking of whitening your teeth? You better think twice before grabbing an over-the-counter bleaching product. They may seem like a cheap and convenient solution, but nothing beats the results you get with professional teeth whitening.