Dental hygienists often work with radiation, due to the nature of their position. They must take x-rays of the inside of a patienta��s mouth to detect dental problems not immediately visible during examination, like the presence of abscesses or tumors and the emergence of wisdom teeth.
The specific dose of radiation patients receive is not significant enough to cause problems, but it is still important to follow specific rules when taking a patienta��s x-rays. Making sure these specific guidelines are followed is the best way to practice safety.
Are you interested in being a dental hygienist? If so, check out these three things dental hygiene students should know about radiation safety!
1. Dental Hygiene Courses Stress the Importance of Limiting Radiation Exposure
The radiation that is used to detect issues hidden by the gum line is not completely concentrated in the mouth, so proper equipment must be worn by the recipient to ensure their total safety. Patients must wear a lead apron that protects their reproductive organs and a lead collar that protects their thyroid gland.
As a dental hygienist, you must also be protected when administering x-rays. If at all possible, you should stand behind a protective barrier. Failing that, ensuring that you are at least six feet away from the x-ray tube and not aligned with the primary beam is recommended. The further you are from scatter radiation and leakage from the x-ray tube, the better. Doubling your distance from the source of the radiation reduces your exposure to a quarter of what it was before.
Getting the proper dental hygienist training provides you with this type of knowledge, which is critical for a healthy, long, and safe career.
2. Dental Hygienist Training Involves Learning the Proper Techniques
Dental hygiene courses teach you the proper way to administer x-rays quickly, safely, and successfully. It is important to aim for the highest quality results while submitting your patients to the lowest amount of radiation possible. X-rays are black and white, so the amount of contrast needs to be taken into account. Contrast determines the length of your gray scalea��the lower the better, because it means everything is more clearly defined.
Employing the right techniques is crucial. Immobilizing your patient properly, ensuring the accuracy of your focal spot-to-film ratio, and aligning the sensor and x-ray beam with the radiographed area are three things to check as you administer the x-rays. Should you find that the x-rays dona��t come out well, chances are that one of the techniques was not orchestrated properly. If they are unusable or unclear, you will have to retake the x-rays, which means exposing the patient to more radiationa��the opposite of what you want to do.
3. Radiation Exposure Needs to be Limited During Pregnancy
All of these things are important for dental hygienists to know, but ita��s especially critical if you or the patient is pregnant. In general, exposing an unborn fetus to any dose or radiation is not recommended. Sometimes the answer is to have an ultrasound instead, and sometimes it is to wear more protective gear than normally necessary.
If you are working as a dental hygienist and are pregnant, it is important to limit your exposure to radiation as much as possible.
Being a dental hygienist is a stable career choice, one which provides you the opportunity to ensure and improve the health of your patients as well as yourself.
Are you interested in earning a dental hygiene accredited diploma?
Contact CADH for more information or to speak with an advisor!