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Should I worry about the radiation in the dental office?

Radiographs in Pediatric Dentistry.

Many parents refuse to make radiographic examinations on their children because they think that this is a carcinogenic radiation, i.e., it may trigger the growth of cancer cells in children. However, this fear is unfounded and should not exist because the radiation used in the pediatric dentist office is very small and it is only performed the x-rays that patient need. In everyday life, without realizing it, we are exposing ourselves to a certain lot of radiation such as solar radiation, the radio waves, microwave oven, cell phones, television, laser beams, among others.  Did you know that dental radiographs are only equivalent to one hour of sun exposure in the environment? 

The dental radiographic exposure represents only 1% compared with other radiological exposures in other fields of health sciences. The government health offices, at federal and state level, establish a set of regulations for the operation of radiographic equipment, proper use of this equipment, its maintenance and the dosage that can emit. 

In our office, the pediatric dentist is very careful. First, the radiographic digitalized film in use is not only highly sensitive but also minimum radiation exposure is applied.  Second, we have "lead protective aprons" for the patient's body as well as for the neck and thyroid of children.  If the cooperation of parents is required for fasten the child while radiographs are being made, we use "lead protective aprons" for adult. In cases where parents want to be present while we take x-rays, we place them 2 meters away from the device and radiological exposure and behind the cone or 45 degrees behind it.  We also use digitized rapid and sensitive receptors to reduce the exposure to a factor of two and we provide to dental assistants with dosimeters in order to monitor and protect yourself in the event of pregnancy.

Types of Dental X-rays: 

Child with Primary Dentition:  prior to eruption of first permanent tooth, individualized radiographic exam consisting of selected periapical/occlusal views and/or posterior bitewings if proximal surfaces cannot be visualized or probed.  Patients without evidence of disease and with open proximal contacts (diastema) may not require a radiographic exam at this time, unless a tooth development disorder is suspected.

Child with Transitional Dentition: When the first incisors and / or permanent molars already have erupted, the radiographs would be periapical proximal views, and panoramic.

Child with Permanent Dentition: In the early stage of puberty and during adolescence, individualized proximal radiographs and panoramic radiographs for suspected periodontal diseases or other injuries that require treatment are made.

On the next edition, I will go over some of  the various techniques pediatric dentists use to take x-rays


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Make these tips part of your dental hygiene habits and you will be on your way to a great dental health. Making your regular checkups mostly preventive; this will not only make your visits enjoyable, it will also save money. Secret number: 1 Floss every day. It’s the single most important factor in preventing gum disease. The more often you floss, the tougher your gums become.
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