There are many reasons why people fear going to the dentist: the cost, the pain, and even the thought of developing cancer from dental X-rays is enough to drive people away.
The rationale is that, because dental X-rays involve passing electromagnetic radiation through the jaw, the exposure could lead to skin burns, cancer, brain tumors and even birth defects.
The truth is that the amount of radiation given off during a dental X-ray is too small to cause any real damage and they are a useful diagnostic tool for dentists during adental checkup.
In honor of National X-ray Day on November 8th and to help clear up the debate, here are five myths and facts about dental X-rays:
Myth: Dental X-rays are particularly harmful because they are using radiation extremely close to the head and brain. Actually, no matter what part of the body it is, the amount of radiation emitted by a dental X-ray is too tiny to cause any damage. And, thanks to improvements in technology, modern dental X-ray machines focus radiation beams so that only your teeth are exposed.
Myth: Dental X-rays will affect the breast milk of pregnant women. In fact, nursing mothers often undergo numerous tests including mammograms and X-rays to determine if they are in a proper state of health. Having a dental X-ray taken at the dentist is absolutely no different from any of these other tests.
Fact: The amount of radiation you are exposed to during a dental X-ray is less than that encountered while engaging in many everyday activities. Cooking with natural gas and flying cross-country expose you to more radioactive materials than a dental X-ray.
Fact: Current dental X-rays require one-fourth of the radiation of traditional dental X-rays. With the introduction of faster speed X-ray film, the amount of radiation needed for a dental X-rays has decreased considerably, as well as the amount of time you are exposed to the radiation.
Fact: The diagnostic and treatment benefits of dental X-rays far outweigh any potential consequences. Dental X-rays are a valuable tool in helping dentists to detect and treat oral health problems at an early stage. Many oral diseases cant be detected by visual and physical examination alone. Dental X-rays can help diagnose early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections, and some types of tumors.
Has the fear of getting cancer kept you from getting a dental X-ray? Share with us in the comments below.