Dental X-Rays: How Do the Benefits Outweigh the Dangers?

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Did you know that every year, 100 million Americans get dental x-rays? X-rays can detect tooth problems early on so dentists can take decisive action, but they also do expose patients to harmful radiation. If you become a dental assistant, you’ll need to know all about x-rays and their equipment, including their risks and benefits:

Benefit: Detects Small Damages

X-rays allow dentists to find small amounts of decay in areas that are hard to see, such as between two teeth or directly under fillings and braces. If you and the dentist rely on eyesight alone, you will miss many of these problems until they become more serious. The sooner you catch decay, the less painful and invasive the procedure to fix it will be. Your patient will probably thank you and the dentist for performing the x-ray that catches the problem.

Risk: Causes Tumors To Develop

Exposure to radiation can damage cells and cause tumors. That’s why it’s so important if you’re a dental assistant to follow proper procedures. The lead apron that you put on your patients protects their organs. There is no protective lead helmet for your brain, though, so it’s important to avoid too many x-rays.  The American Dental Association recommends only one x-ray every two years for adults.

Benefit: Finds Bone Infections

Besides detecting problems with your patients’ teeth, you can also use x-rays to look for infections in their jaw bones. Patients who have jaw bone infections can suffer from throbbing pain, become fatigued, and even have trouble swallowing and opening their mouths. If you perform an x-ray on a patient with these symptoms, the dentist can confirm whether it’s an infection and begin a course of treatment. It is important to catch infections early because they make the bone more likely to break, so anything that helps you detect them is beneficial.

Risk: Causes Pregnancy Problems

X-rays can cause problems for developing fetuses, which is why dentists try not to perform them on pregnant women. Because dental x-rays focus on the head, the risk to the fetus is small, but you should still check with patients who are pregnant or think they might become pregnant. If they are, let the dentist know so that he or she can explain the risks to the patient. You should also make sure that the patient wears the lead apron correctly to protect her uterus from radiation.

Benefit: Detects Periodontal Disease

Dentists can use x-rays to detect periodontitis, a gum disease that harms teeth. According to the CDC, almost half of adults in the United States have periodontitis. Many who have the disease don’t even know it, which makes it harder for their dentist to cure it until it has already caused serious damage. X-rays helps the dentist detect periodontitis early and save patients from its most painful effects.

If you have ever thought about working as a Dental Assistant, we can help make your dream a reality. Charter College has a Dental Assistant Certificate Program that you can finish in only ten months. Call 1-888-200-9942 and get started on your new career path today!