Let’s Talk Xrays with Dr. Adena Borodkin of Golden Valley Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Golden Valley, MN

Dec 19, 2018

With X-mas coming up, I thought it would be a good time to talk about X-rays! Some of the most frequent questions I get asked in the office are about X-rays. Do my kids really need them? Is it safe? So I thought I’d share some of the basics when it comes to dental radiography and some of my favorite resources.

This is a hot topic! Literally! When people are talking about radiation and dosages, they are referring to micro-Sieverts or Sv. Four bitewing X-rays are 5 Sv. To put this in perspective, I’ll share a few other interesting facts. The average person receives a dose of 10 Sv on the average day from background radiation like sunlight. 400 Sv is the yearly dose an average person gets from eating food! Bananas are radioactive at 0.1 Sv. The EPA put a yearly limit on radiation dosage to members of the public at 1,000 Sv. The risk of harm is dependent on both the dose and the dose rate, or in other words, the time that the body is exposed to that dose. So a large dosage over a greater period of time is less concerning than that same dosage in a very short period of time.

Digital radiography significantly reduces the amount of radiation that patients are exposed to. Even so, we don’t “automatically” order radiographs for every patient. Dr. Borodkin assesses every patient’s risk for decay, and examines the teeth to determine if X-rays are indicated. Some types of X-rays (such as panoramic X-rays) provide a lot of information about growth and development and health of the jaws. Some X-rays are used to detect decay between the teeth. Since we cannot see the areas between the teeth, bitewing X-rays allow us to detect decay at an early stage, when treatment is easier. Decay in baby teeth progresses quickly, so early detection is a wonderful way to keep dental visits easy and positive. Whenever an X-ray is ordered, the information gained from it, must outweigh the exposure risk for that patient. We are guided by the ALARA principle of radiation safely. ALARA stands for “as low as reasonably achievable”. This principle means that even for small doses of radiation like dental radiographs, if the dose has no direct benefit, you should avoid it.

We always use a thyroid shield, and we lower the dosage to a “child-size” exposure time. In this way, we limit X-ray exposure to only that which is needed. We also will not expose the X-ray if the patient is moving or unable to keep the sensor in the position required. This means that if the film will not be diagnostic, we don’t expose it. I follow the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry when prescribing dental radiographs for infants, children, adolescents and persons with special health care needs. These guidelines were adopted from the ADA and the FDA. The table in the above link is very useful! If you want to learn more about X-rays, go to this site by the ADA.

Feel free to ask me any questions! I am happy to sit down with you and work out a plan for your child’s specific dental needs! Call me at (763) 222-1299. And Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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