With the increased news regarding radiation exposure in the medical, dental and even airport settings, we thought that it would be a good idea to organize some information on the general effective doses of radiation as it relates to dentistry and the world around us. While there are different measurements of radiation, we are interested in measuring the “Dose Equivalent Radiation”. Around the world, this is measured in Sieverts, but in the United States it is measureed in REM, or millirem (mREM). The average person in the United States is exposed to 300-360 mREM in background radiation each year. Background radiation is the radiation constantly present in the natural environment of the Earth, which is emitted by natural and artificial sources.
The following list will allow you to compare dental radiographs with other sources of radiation that you may encounter in your life.
Digital Bitewing X-rays(4) 1.3 mREM
Digital Fullmouth Series X-rays(18) 6 mREM
Digital Panoramic X-ray 1 mREM
Dental CBCT Scan 2 to 7 mREM
Film Based X-ray (1) 1 mREM
Film Based Fullmouth Series(18) 18 mREM
Film Based Panoramic 2 mREM
Brain CT Scan ~200 mREM
Heart CT Scan ~1200 mREM
Gastrointestinal CT Scan ~1000 mREM
Mammogram 42 mREM
Chest X-ray 10 mREM
Airport Scan .01 mREM
Cross Country Flight 3 to 5 mREM
Cooking with Natural gas 10 mREM/year
Smoking 30 cigarettes/day 1300 to 6000 mREM/year
Radiation from dental visits result in a small percentage of your annual background radiation exposure. While the bitewing series is taken on an annual basis to evaluate the teeth for cavities, the other dental radiographic films are taken infrequently. Dental radiographs play a critical part in comprehensive dental treatment and we have always strived to accumulate the best data, while limiting the radiation exposure to our patients. Over the years we have integrated digital x-rays and a conebeam CT to expand our diagnosing capabilities while reducing the overall amount of radiation exposure. While there is no way to say that any amount of radiation is “safe”, we do our best to make sure that your exposure at the dental office is kept to a minimum.
Issaquah Creek Dental