What are the benefits of digital x-rays? How often should my doctor take images?

Digital images are an important part of early detection. Diagnosing tooth decay, periodontal disease, or structural issues early means treatment can be less invasive and less costly. Frequency of digital imaging can vary. “Bitewing” images every six months and “full mouth x-rays” at a first exam and then every 5 years is a good standard of care. Traditional x-rays result in significant waste and pollution. Digital dental radiographs (x-rays) expose patients to 70-90% less radiation exposure than traditional dental x-rays.

Should patients and carers wear lead aprons and personal protective devices during a dental radiographic procedure?

With well designed and optimized equipment and procedures, there is no need for routine use of lead aprons for the patient in dental radiology. Lead aprons may provide some protection in the case of the vertex occlusal examination. They may be prudent in the case of vertex occlusal examinations in a patient who is or may be, pregnant. On the other hand, the use of a lead apron may reassure patients that every effort is being made to ensure their safety. It may reduce the amount of time that needs to be taken to reassure them. Certainly, a lead apron should be provided for any patient who requests one. It may also be advisable to consider using them on a cautionary basis where equipment and/or technique have not been verified by a radiation protection specialist. They will not otherwise interfere with the examination. Thyroid collars should be used in the few examinations where the thyroid may be in the main beam. Lead aprons should be provided for a person who is required to support a patient during the radiographic procedure (i.e., a comforter). Assisting adults should be positioned so that all parts of their body are out of the main beam.