Radiology in dentistry

In the information age, we are increasingly concerned about our health, and more and more worried about the possible toxicity of what we eat or about environmental pollution. 

Radiation is also a factor, but are we worrying too much? Are we being reasonable about our fears?

Radiology represents a fundamental area in almost any medical discipline and especially in the field of dentistry. Radiation allows dentists to see structures that are imperceptible in a first visual examination, thus enabling a correct diagnosis and proper planning of dental treatment.

What are dental X-rays used for?

Dental X-rays enable the dentist to detect alterations or defects that are not visible with a routine examination. In addition, it allows a comparison to be made with previously taken X-rays., and monitor the patient's progress. 

A clear example of a non-visible alteration is the case of one of Vélez and Lozano's patients who, despite suffering no pain and showing no visible pathology, a panoramic X-ray showed a cyst in the jaw.

The frequency The radiographic examination is carried out by our dentist depending on the patient's state of health, age and risk of developing oral pathologies. 

When it comes to children's patientsThey may need X-rays more often, as they are in the process of tooth and jaw development, especially to compare the correct development and replacement of teeth.

A few years ago, radiology underwent an evolution similar to that of cameras, moving from conventional X-rays with film, to digital radiology. Thanks to these advances, the radiation dose to which the patient is exposed can be up to 100 times lower than before, as very short or very low intensity, very stable beams are needed to reduce the dose. 

Safety and protective measures in the use of oral radiological tests

The radiation received with a digital X-ray is low but there are a number of precautions to further reduce the amount reaching the patient.. In the Vélez y Lozano Dental Clinic We have all the necessary protective measures in place, both structural shielding (lead doors and glass) and personal protection measures (lead apron and thyroid protector). These measures reduce the radiation dose received by both the patient and the clinical team by between 50% and 80%. 

In the case of pregnant women, the leaded apron is also used to protect the foetus. In addition, the X-ray tube is oriented so that it is directed neither towards the thorax nor towards the abdomen.

In the case of the youngest children, shorter trigger times and manual adjustment, which means that less large areas can be irradiated. This practice is used especially with babies.

When is an X-ray necessary?

Oral radiography is used to perform a complete study of the oral structures of the jaws, teeth and soft tissue.

Dental X-rays have multiple uses and benefits, and these outweigh any risks they may entail. The same as when other types of x-rays are taken to detect diseases or pathologies, oral x-rays are safe, quick and easy to perform.

Regarding the relative radiation dose that the patient receives when taking a dental X-ray, the following image from BHdentistry shows a comparison of the radiation from different sources that a person receives annually. Some of these sources are: food, flights (due to altitude), brick buildings and ceramic floors.

In the image we can see how by simply eating a banana we receive half the radiation emitted by a dental X-ray affecting a single tooth, or how in a flight of approximately 4 hours we receive 10 times more radiation than with a panoramic X-ray of the whole mouth.

It will always be the dentist to determine the number and type of x-rays that need to be taken.. The method of radiographic studies allows an efficient diagnosis and avoids unnecessary treatment.