Concerns About Dental X-rays and Cancer

I’m concerned that the amount of x-rays my dentist takes are putting me at a higher risk for getting cancer. They can’t be safe for anyone if the person who takes them has to leave the room. I’d prefer to not have them taken anymore or at the very least, much less frequently. How do I address this with my dentist?



Dear Janet,

The radiation emitted during x-rays is minimal, especially so if your doctor uses a digital x-ray system. You’re exposed to radiation all day long from many sources. Cell phones, TV, power lines, computers, soil, and even other people emit radiation. It’s possible to be exposed to more radiation from heading to the airport and taking a round-trip coast-to-coast flight than from one round of bite-wings. Even still, your dental office will take extra precautions by covering your torso with a protective apron and ensuring only the areas that need to be examined are exposed to radiation. The person who takes your x-rays leaves the room because he or she can easily take ten sets of x-rays in a day. I’ve known assistants in a busy clinic setting who have taken 20-30 sets in a single day. So although the amount of exposure from one set of x-rays isn’t cause for concern, the repeated exposure to multiple x-rays day in and day out, over weeks, months and years would be.

Your doctor prescribes x-rays when he has weighed the benefits and risks and has determined that the benefit is greater. X-rays are an important diagnostic tool and can catch problems before they cause you real trouble as well as determining the extent of an issue and the best course of treatment.

If you remain apprehensive about having x-rays, speak with your dentist. An experienced dentist will take time to go over the specifics of your treatment with you and address your concerns.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

Connect with Us

We look forward to meeting you.
Call (847) 742-1330 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.