How much radiation are you exposed to during a dental x-ray?

Dr. Aziza Askari, a dentist in Farmington Hills, Michigan, takes x-rays almost every time her patients come to her dental office for a routine dental checkup or an exam to address a specific problem or oral condition. As a dentist, Dr. Askari sees x-rays as a valuable tool to help her patients maintain healthy teeth and gums and, therefore, a healthy smile and body.

Some patients, on the other hand, see x-rays as unnecessary radiation exposure. Just how much radiation do you absorb from a dental x-ray, and how harmful is it?

Radiation is measured in a unit called a rem. Like a mile, a rem is a large unit of length, so a millirem (mrem) is more commonly used. 1000 mrem is equal to one rem. It’s hard to grasp the amount of radiation in 1 mrem without knowing the amount or mrems we’re exposed to on a daily basis. The National Council on Radiation Protection says that the average U.S. resident absorbs about 360 mrem each year from a variety of sources, including radioactive materials in the earth, small amounts of radioactive material in the food we consume, smoke detectors, living in a brick house, cooking with natural gas, reading a book for more than 3 hours a day, and flying in an airplane.

A typical dental x-ray only exposes you to 2 or 3 mrem.

This small amount of radiation exposure is a miniscule price to pay for the protection a bi-annual dental x-ray can provide from serious oral problems and conditions. If you’re due for a dental exam and cleaning, or if you think that something has changed with your teeth, gums, or tongue, call Comfort Dental Spa at (248) 474-6434 to reserve an appointment.