Reducing Radiation at the Dental Office

Reducing Radiation at the Dental Office

Sep 29, 2020

Q: Dear Dr. Josephs: I know my dentist says that using digital x-rays lessens the exposure to radiation, but is there any technology to get it to zero?

A: Speaking of “exposure”, I was exposed to how life was in the 1700’s after a tour of an 18th Century Palace in Vienna a couple of years ago. I was motivated to buy a book on medicine in early modern Europe. Last night I read that out of 1000 people born during that time, only 28 died of natural causes in what we call today “old age”. Back then most diseases were blamed on demons and curses. (Today it’s from watching reality TV shows.)

One medical technique was called transference: If you had a fever, they put a horse in your room and hoped your disease would leave your body and jump to the animal, which eventually was sacrificed. Imagine the nun coming into your room at the castle’s infirmary: “Hello Mrs. Nussbaum. I think you’ve met Trigger before. I’ll leave you two alone now. Ring this bell if you need me!”

There has been an increase I oral cancer such as tongue cancer in the last decade. It is important that the X-ray beam is focused on the teeth during dental X-rays, minimizing scatter into the soft tissues of the head and neck region.

Many dentists are using digital X-rays which use much less radiation than conventional film X-rays and pop up on a computer screen, but a relatively new device called Dexshield reduced your exposure even more by allowing only a small 1” by 2” opening for radiation to pass though as it makes its way to your teeth.

How do you know if your DDS is using it? Check if the large hoop that the Xray cone is being aimed at is completely blocked with a black (lead filled) disc with only a small postage stamp opening. For more info and photos, drop us an email.

(We promise to keep all livestock out of the room during your dental treatment.)

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