Dental X-Rays: Get the Real Picture!

»»Dental X-Rays: Get the Real Picture!


Critical for Diagnosis & Treatment Planning

X-rays help pinpoint problems and avoid further complications.

People are often concerned that they’re receiving too much radiation from X-rays, so it’s important to understand why the benefits of X-rays (taken at reasonable intervals) far outweigh the concerns!

The purpose of X-rays is to pinpoint problems and avoid further complications. Without them, we couldn’t find decay under fillings or between teeth, we couldn’t find abscesses or tumors in gums and bone, and we couldn’t detect faulty development of adult or wisdom teeth. We also wouldn’t be able to see the formation of pockets around teeth or the loss of bone caused by gum disease.

Furthermore, the risks are widely misunderstood, and dental X-rays in particular use less radiation than just about any other variety. During a checkup that includes either 4 bitewing or 1 panoramic X-ray, patients receive a dose of .005 or .01 millisieverts (mSv) respectively. That’s the equivalent of about 1 or 2 days of natural background radiation. Compare that with full-chest X-rays that result in 10 to 20 times as much exposure (0.1 mSv), or pelvic X-rays that require 60 to 120 times as much (0.6 mSv).

So why do dental X-rays use such little radiation? Since teeth are close to the surface of the skin and grouped in a relatively small area, dentists can achieve the same high-quality images with a narrower beam and much lower intensity.

We’ve taken other steps to reduce the risks!

  • Modern X-ray equipment has reduced the size of the X-ray beam
  • Digital imaging requires less radiation than traditional X-ray film
  • Lead aprons provide further protection from unnecessary exposure
  • All team members operating dental radiographic equipment have been trained and certified in accordance with state law

Without X-rays, we can only make educated guesses. Wouldn’t you rather have us see “the real picture?”

About the Author:

Born in Allentown Pennsylvania, into a family of musicians, Rob Pearce grew up studying violin, percussion, jazz arranging and composition. After two years at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he transfer to the pre-dental program at the University of Miami and later moved to San Francisco where he earned his Doctorate in Dentistry (DDS) from the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 1990. For the past twenty eight years he has focused his efforts on mastering the art of high quality, long lasting “metal free dentistry,” a concept that was relatively new at the time but over the years has gained powerful momentum. In 2014 Dr. Pearce became a member of the “Visiting Faculty” of Spear Education, arguably the most prestigious dental continuing education program in the world. As a Spear Open Wide Foundation Ambassador, Dr. Pearce and his team travel to Guatemala to provide metal free dentistry to those who would otherwise receive no dental treatment at all. Dr. Pearce and Annette Rig were honored, and lucky enough to treat the very first patient at the Foundation’s first clinic in 2012. Since then, with the outpouring of support from our member dentists and American equipment manufacturers, we now have six clinics and have treated over 200,000 patients in need! The foundation’s goals include helping improve the education of Guatemala dentists. In 2015, as a member of the Education Development Committee, Dr. Pearce presented an all day lecture and workshop for the faculty and students at the Galvez School of Dentistry in Guatemala City.