Toxic Tuesday – Ionizing Radiation – Is Dentistry Really the Problem?

A frequent question we are asked is, “If I come to your dental practice do I need to have X-rays?” It is a fact that ionizing radiation such as X-rays have the potential to do damage to our cells. It makes sense to minimize your exposure. However, what is the risk to your health when you totally avoid radiation? What value do dental radiographs offer (particularly when using a 3D Cone-Beam CT scan) as it relates to earlier diagnoses with issues inside your jaws? Rather than resisting all possible sources of X-ray radiation, it may be helpful for some people to understand more about ALL of the sources of ionizing radiation. In comparison, you will find that dental X-rays pose very little health risk.

The image on today’s post is one that I have shared with patients for almost 20 years. It does a wonderful job of illustrating the numerous ways by which we are exposed to ionizing radiation. This kind of radiation is measured in “Sievert” units. Most are in the “milli-Sievert” or “micro-Sievert” range (1 milli-Sievert = 1000 micro-Sieverts). For practical purposes, here are some examples of radiation sources and their approximate dose:

  • One digital dental bite-wing X-ray: 5 micro-Sieverts
  • One digital 3D Cone-Beam CT scan: 30-40 micro-Sieverts
  • One 7-hour cross-country flight: 50 micro-Sieverts
  • Terrestrial radiation exposure per year per person: 260 micro-Sieverts
  • Abdominal X-ray: 600 micro-Sieverts
  • Mammogram: 3,000 micro-Sieverts

As you can see, dental X-ray radiation represents far less in a given year than we are exposed to from natural ionizing radiation from the earth! Most dentists are using X-ray radiation in smart, intentional, and minimally invasive ways to help reduce your overall risk for serious oral health issues. Thankfully, our X-ray systems at BDC are the most advanced and least invasive you will find!

If your health is struggling and you’re seeking the most thoughtful and compassionate team to help you, ping us today through our website or call us to reserve your New Patient Experience!

Blodgett Dental Care – Human Beings Helping Human Beings

If you desire an approach to your oral health care where all the treatment options are presented and you get to choose based on your values and goals, we would love to help you!  Please email us at to reserve your New Patient Experience.  Visit our website to learn about our Dental Tourism solutions.  We are here to serve you!


Call Blodgett Dental Care at (503) 713-6980 to schedule your next appointment!


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