Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

A big concern patients have when going to the dentist is: Are the x-rays safe? First let’s talk about types of x-rays and how commonly you need them and then we will talk about their safety.

Types of Dental X-Rays

There are many different types of x-rays. The most common x-rays you will see in a dental office are intraoral films and panoramic x-rays.

Intraoral Films

  • Intraoral films are x-rays like bitewings or periapical films.
  • Used to check for infection, bone level and cavities.
  • Allows your dentist to check areas of your mouth that they cannot see and can provide early detection of vey serious problems, which will lead to a decrease in damage to your teeth and mouth.
  • Bitewing x-rays are usually taken 1 time each year and periapical films are usually taken every few years.


  • Panoramic x-ray allows your dentist to look at your entire mouth in one picture as opposed to multiple pictures.
  • Allows your dentist to see any teeth that may be unerupted or impacted, also allows them to see the entire jaw and check for any cancerous lesions.
  • Determine if and/or when braces are needed, and to make sure that teeth are properly forming and coming in for children.
  • Panoramic x-rays are usually taken every 3-5 years depending on the age of the person and medical history.

So, Are X-Rays Safe?

Here are some statistics and information about the safety of x-rays:

  • Dentists use the ALARA principal. ALARA stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”. This means that we do the least number of x-rays necessary.
  • New dental technology has drastically decreased the amount of radiation you receive from x-rays.
  • Thyroid collars and lead aprons are used to protect your internal organs from exposure to any radiation.
    • These also make it safe for pregnant patients to have x-rays.
  • How do dental x-rays compare in the amount of radiation exposure?
    • Exposure from Everyday Life
      • The average person is exposed to 2.0-4.5 mSv radiation a year. mSv is the unit of measurement that allows for comparison of doses form different x-rays sources.
      • Much of the radiation you are exposed to is environmental (sun, appliances, phones, etc.).
      • On average the daily environmental exposure for a person is 0.01 mSv
    • Exposure from Dental X-Rays
      • 4 bitewing films (most common) exposes you to approximately 0.004 mSv
      • A panoramic film (depending on model) exposes you to approximately 0.0142-0.0243 mSv

Here’s an article that will give you way more information about “are dental x-rays safe” from the US National Library of Medicine: Health Effects from Exposure to Dental Diagnostic X-Rays

Overall, the amount of radiation you receive at the dental office is very minimal and will not increase your risk of any type of cancer from radiation.

Luff Dental Keeps Your Smile Healthy 

If you are worried about the amount of radiation you exposed to talk with your dentist. The amount of radiation you receive from dental x-rays is even safe for patients who have undergone radiation treatment for cancers. The frequency of x-rays taken in a dental office are determined by the patient’s age, medical history, oral hygiene, and previous dental treatment. Rest assured your dentist is factoring in all these things and will not do more x-rays than are needed.

Work with Dr. Luff and her team to find the most effective solution for your smile! We are always accepting new patients in the Lee’s Summit, MO and surrounding area who are ready to improve the health of their teeth, their confidence and smile! Please call Luff Dental at (816) 875-3391 to schedule your appointment.