• Do I Need to Have X-Rays?

    Do I Need to Have X-Rays?

    Many patients are reluctant to have xrays because of the risks associated with radiation exposure; it’s also the reason why many dentists only choose to get x-rays when absolutely essential in your diagnosis or treatment.

    X-rays provide your dentist with additional important information about the condition of your teeth and will reveal any hidden decay, problems with the roots of your teeth or issues with your jaw and your facial bones. Things that they can’t get to view any other way without serious undertakings that are very costly to you.

    If you are in doubt about the need for x-rays, ask your dentist to explain why they want or need them. You may also want to ask if there is any other alternative to having x-rays; that way you can make a fully informed decision.

    How Do X-Ray Machines Work?

    X-rays are like visible light rays and will cast a shadow when they are blocked by a solid object, but because x-rays are stronger than visible light rays they can pass deeper and through objects.

    When an x-ray is taken of a human body, the rays are blocked or absorbed differently by the different parts of our anatomy. Things like metal implants will appear bright white on an x-ray because they absorb a high percentage of the x-ray. While your bones appear light grey because the rays can pass through more easily and your muscles show up as darker grey because even more of the ray passes straight through. Areas of your body with air are black because the rays pass through without being blocked.

    Just like when you flick the switch to turn on a light in a dark room so you can see, the rays from an x-ray machine are only on when the person taking your x-ray switches the machine on. That means once the x-ray machine is turned off there are no more x-rays or radiation coming from the machine.

    To read more about medical radiation and how it could affect you or your children, please visit Inside Radiology the website for The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

    Is it Safe to Get an X-Ray While I’m Pregnant?

    The precautions take by your dentist by placing a lead apron over your body plus the protection of your body mean that your baby is well protected in the womb. The risks are lowered further with dental x-rays because of the very focused way in which the x-ray machine used by dentists emits it’s beam – in a directly focused small area of your jaw.

    While the risk is considered negligible, there is a natural reluctance with most health care practitioners, particularly dentists, to xray pregnant women. It would usually only be considered in the case of an emergency when the advantage to the mother’s health is outweighed by any potential risk to your baby.

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