Safety Considerations in Dental Radiography

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In the field of dentistry, one of the most important aspects of ensuring clean and healthy teeth is being able to see what lurks beneath the surface. Dental radiography, taking x-rays of the mouth, is the best and most accurate way for an intra-oral dental assistant to reveal whata��s hiding in the nooks and crannies under your teeth and gums. Ita��s an important part of the curriculum in dental assistant school and is invaluable for locating tooth decay and other nefarious dental problems. In fact, ita��s used the world over to ensure a clean and happy mouth. However, because of the radiation necessary in the process, there are certain safety considerations that must be taken into account.

The Details

Thorough and frequent inspection of the radiography machine is absolutely essential. The operating potential of dental x-ray machines is required to fall into a range between 50 and 100 kilovolts, but ideally the operating potential should range between 60 and 80 kilovolts. A lower voltage is responsible for producing higher quality and more contrasting images, but with backscatter radiation. Higher voltages produce lower contrast images.

Lead Shields

Even though dental radiography involves only low-level amounts of radiation, ita��s still necessary to take proper precautions to ensure the process is as safe and straightforward as possible. If you become a dental hygienist, youa��ll know that it is imperative that you use leaded aprons and thyroid shields that contain lead to protect patients from any unwanted extra radiation. These shields are responsible for protecting against scattered radiation that can occur.

The Film Holders

It is highly advised to have x-ray film holders that align the film precisely with the collimated beam of the machine. For optimum infection control, disposable intra-oral radiograph film holding devices are recommended, or ones that are able to be sterilized by heat. Dental professionals should never under any circumstances hold the film holder during the exposure.

Young Children

Much more care should be taken when dealing with young children, as they are much more susceptible to the effects of radiation than adults. Because of this, it is strongly recommended to use a form of thyroid shielding, preferably with a leaded thyroid shield or collar.

Pregnant Women

Generally ita��s not recommended for pregnant women to have x-rays taken unless absolutely necessary. By and large, the process should be postponed until the patient gives birth, in order to minimize the adverse effects. If the x-ray process is absolutely necessary a�� in the case of extremely urgent dental emergencies a�� then the utmost care must be taken to shield both the patient and the unborn child.

Dental radiography is an excellent and extremely efficient tool for diagnosing dental problems, but it must be given the utmost respect, care and attention to ensure safety for all parties involved.

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