Recently, the American Dental Association revised its x-ray recommendations in an effort to limit patient exposure to radiation. In collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, guidelines were reviewed and updated accordingly and released this past December.
The ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) consulted with a number of dental radiology experts before sending the draft to be peer reviewed. The x-ray revisions were also reviewed by other organizations, such as the American Association of Physicists in Medicine and the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors.
Published in a booklet available on their website at http://www.ada.org, this 27-page resource titled “Dental Radiograph Examinations: Recommendations for Patient Selection and Limiting Radiation Exposure,” is aimed at dental professionals, and is to be utilized along with their professional judgment as to the best application of diagnostic treatment for any given patient.
At our office, Mark W Langberg, DDS MAGD, we take the utmost precautions to minimize radiation levels and exposure when taking x-rays. All tools and techniques regarding radiation are specifically designed to limit and ensure that radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle.)
ALARA is a radiation safety principle as well as a regulatory requirement, that minimizes radiation doses by applying reasonable methods to reduce both the number, frequency and intensity of x-rays taken. Since 1989, this principle has been adopted by the American Dental Association and embodied in our practice philosophy, only prescribing x-rays after an oral examination based on a patient’s oral and health history.
The ADA recommendations include the addition of a new section on the limits of radiation exposure for patients. According to the ADA, it is the responsibility of all dentists to follow the ALARA principle to minimize a patient’s exposure. The ADA suggests that good radiologic practice includes the use of a fast image receptor compatible with the diagnostic task, proper film exposure and processing techniques, and the use of both protective aprons and thyroid collars when necessary. We HAVE ALWAYS utilized protective aprons and thyroid collars and will continue to do so.
The organization also recommended that dentists limit the number of these images taken to the absolute minimum without inhibiting the essential sources needed to make an accurate and essential diagnosis. We go out of our way to reduce the frequency of x-ray examinations and number of films taken. Our decisions are made on an individual case-by-case basis and are determined by your decay history and risk, your individual requirements to manage your gum (periodontal) health, or the need to check the fit of newly placed dental restorations. There has to be a good reason for us to take x-rays, and they must be necessary!
With rapid advancements in dental technology, new standards and practices were recommended, mostly dealing with faster, more sensitive x-ray film. Studies completed by the FDA suggest that switching to a faster film speed, such as from D speed to E speed film can reduce radiation exposure by 30 to 40 percent. Even newer F-speed film can reduce exposure additionally to about 20 to 50 percent. At Dr. Mark Langberg’s office we have totally transcended the use of traditional film and HAVE GONE ENTIRELY DIGITAL! These brand new, highly sophisticated digital sensors work with less than 25% of traditional film exposure, providing more detailed, easily enlarged and easily saved images at a fraction of the exposure and the time it takes for traditional film.
It is important that you know that at our office the combination of the ALARA principal with ALWAYS using protective patient shielding and the newest digital technology is the newest paradigm in dental imaging and has resulted in unheard of safety for our patients. As always, we are totally committed to maximizing your benefits while minimizing your risks in all diagnostics and treatment. I thought it was important for you to know about this. Informed patients make for healthier and happier patients! If you have more questions or concerns don’t hesitate to ask us!
So until next time,
Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD