Most patients trust that their dentist adheres to safety best practices. But sometimes a person will express their concern about potential radiation exposure during routine — and not-so-routine — X-rays. Here are three ways to allay your patients’ concerns:

  1. Remind patients that dental radiographs account for only about 2.5 percent of their total annual radiation dose. According to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, about half of the mean effective radiation dose in the United States is from natural sources, such as soil and radon. While the other half is from man-made sources, the average dose for adults from an intraoral X-ray is only .005 millisieverts (mSv), compared to a mammogram, which is .4 mSv
  2. Wear a dosimeter badge. Dosimeters measure radiation doses. Since radiation cannot be detected with normal human senses, that is to say it has no smell and cannot be seen, felt, or heard, proper precautions need to be taken to be safe. The newest generation of dosimeters, such as Instadose +, which is worn on the lapel, use direct ion storage technology to measure and record radiation exposure as it happens. That means radiation dosage can instantly be captured and accessed on a smart device or computer. So if a staff member wants to know how much radiation he or she is being exposed to when performing a single X-ray, the answer is available immediately.
  3. Assure pregnant patients that you have measures in place to protect them and their unborn child. In 2015, the American College of Obstetricians and Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women stated its finding that dental X-rays are safe for pregnant women, as long as the woman uses a protective abdominal apron and thyroid shield. While large radiation doses can be harmful, particularly to fetuses younger than 18 weeks, the doses used in dentistry are not large enough to have an effect.

If your patients still have concerns, refer them to the American Dental Associations website for more information.