More and more frequently, dental offices are dealing with concerns about the safety of x-rays. Every day a dentist is asked by an anxious patient if their x-rays are necessary and if they are going to cause health problems in the future. After all, the technicians are wearing lead vests and pregnant women are not allowed to have them, so why should the average patient be subjected to the procedure when there is no proof they are safe or not. Dental offices should help patients understand the risks and the benefits of having x-rays taken. If your dental office ignores your concerns or treats you like you have a problem and are being silly, it is time to find someone else to clean your teeth. Likewise, you might not be comfortable working with a dental office that never, ever does x-rays. Some people want a thorough checkup and to get one, an x-ray might be necessary.
So are they really dangerous? The answer is probably not, but maybe. That, of course, is the answer for just about everything. Getting into a car, flying on a plane, eating red meat, drinking too much, hang-gliding and swimming in the ocean all come with the exact same caveat. Things we do every day put us at risk, but we are probably not going to get hurt or contract a fatal illness. However, as anyone who has been injured or contracted a fatal illness knows, it does happen.
You need to take responsibility for your health. This means visiting the dental office regularly and having a professional clean your teeth. This may also mean having x-rays or it might mean avoiding x-rays. It is your body and it is up to you to decide the best treatment. This begins with being knowledgeable. It is important for you to know the risks associated with x-rays. You are radiating your body. This is dangerous, but if done in low doses, some believe it is not all that dangerous. However, like anything, if you are susceptible to something, an x-ray’s danger is going to be greater than it is for someone who is low-risk.
Having an excessive number of x-rays is foolish, just like eating an excessive number of cheeseburgers or traveling at excessive speeds in a car is foolish. Both increase the potential danger of something that if done in moderation, might be perfectly healthy. Some believe though that even a small amount of x-ray radiation is dangerous. Plus, you need to remember that the radiation builds up over time. A lifetime of increased radiation is more dangerous than a single exposure that is not all that intense.
So what do you do? Talk to your dental professional. When he or she suggests an x-ray, find out why and discuss the pros and cons. If they pay attention to your concerns, you know you are working with someone you can trust. Only have x-rays when absolutely necessary. This will save you money and it could even save your life.