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Want To Reduce Your Radiation Exposure? Try Three Alternatives To Dental X-Rays

Although dental x-rays are safe, there is no harm in trying to reduce the amount of radiation that you will be exposed to in your lifetime. One way of doing this is to opt for alternatives of dental x-rays that involve little or no radiation. Here are three examples:


Ultrasonograph machines use high-frequency sound waves to capture images of the oral cavity. Just like x-rays, the waves are designed to pass through the soft tissues of the body, but get blocked by hard tissues such as teeth. The major benefits of this alternative are that it:

  • Doesn't involve the use of radiation in any way
  • Is relatively inexpensive
  • Is noninvasive

You just have to be cautious with ultrasonography if you are pregnant. The sound waves may heat up, generate gas or fluids in soft tissues within your body, and this includes the fetus. The long-term consequences of this effect aren't clear, but it is best to play it safe.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is also known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), involves the use of magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of internal organs. The pictures, which can both be two-dimensional and three-dimensional, are then to and processed by a computer. MRI doesn't involve any level of radiation exposure too.

The major drawbacks of MRI are that it isn't suitable for some types of patients. For example, you may not be a suitable candidate if you have some forms of internal devices such as magnetic dental implants and inner ear implants unless the devices are certified as MRI safe. For this reason, you should always check with your doctor before going for a dental MRI scan.

Digital X-Ray

A digital x-ray setup replaces the traditional photographic film with sensors. The sensors are placed in the mouth to capture the images, which are then sent to a computer screen. Since there is no chemical processing and multiple exposures, the radiation exposure to the patient is greatly reduced. According to WebMD, other advantages of digital x-rays include:

  • The images can be enhanced for clarity
  • The images can be transferred to other dentists or medical personnel electronically
  • Reduced wait time since the images can be viewed on a monitor in a matter of minutes

Note that your dentist understands all the pros and cons of using all these different forms of dental imaging. Therefore, listen and take his or her professional advice concerning them