• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

Xrays - safety levels



Well-known member
Jan 24, 2012
England, UK
Hiyer, another question please,

Over the last few weeks I've had a number of small xrays taken, by that I mean of single teeth and the couple next to them, here and there on the front and right of my mouth. As there were a few 'surprise problems' with hidden cavities that showed up, my new dentist advises to have a full upper and lower set done now to be sure that there are no other surprises missed by my last s**t dentist. (They never did one set in the years I was with them !) So, just a thought concerning me, is it safe to have a full set done next week when I've had a few smaller sets done in the last few weeks ?
It's fine, the exposure is minimal, very safe. especially if they use digital technology.

Here is an interesting chart I found.
Typical Effective X-Ray Doses2 (ICRP 60) for Common X-Ray Procedures and Various Natural Sources

Source - Dose (mrem)

Annual natural background exposure - 300
Lateral lumbar spine x-ray - 70
Mammogram - 45
Dental x-ray - 10
Transcontinental flight, round trip - 6
Chest x-ray - 5
DXA, hip or spine 1-6
One week ski vacation 1-2

so you'd need 30 dental x rays in one year to equal what you get just walking around. I used to work in a cardiac procedure lab were we were exposed all day everyday.........our limit was 300 per month with our lead aprons!

Goodness me, the is enlightening ! I had no idea the figures were so low for dental work compared to natural radiation levels. Excellent, thanks RP.

Do you mean 30 full mouth dental xrays ? (not that I am planning that many you understand LOL !!)
No, 30 "exposures" are you having the 18 xrays or just one panorex?
Also most digital systems use much less radiation than film based.
It is useful to remember that radiation dosage is cumulative, although it is true that a couple of extra Xrays is not likely to be harmful.

I found the following on the website of the INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON RADIOLOGICAL PROTECTION, and it mentions the comparison of dosage between digital and film Xray:

"Although digital imaging systems have potential for dose reduction, the experience shows that many facilities impart more doses to patients. The primary reason is that over-exposure goes undetected, unlike with film where the image turns dark or black. In digital imaging, in contrast, the image becomes better when there is overexposure. Further, there is a tendency to take more images than necessary. In a study performed in several hospitals in the US, in-patient utilization (number of examinations per in-patient day) increased after transition to digital systems, while out-patient utilization (number of examinations per visit) also increased, although the number of examinations per visit nationally were decreased [ICRP 93]. It is very easy to delete images before archiving, and technologists tend to repeat exposure if the positioning is wrong or if there is motion blur. Such repeats normally go undetected. Thus digital imaging has the potential to increase the number of exposures and hence patient dose."

For me, caution is always advised when allowing myself to be exposed to Xrays. I won't have dental Xrays more than once a year unless there are problems. I worked with radioactive calcium during my graduate work and perhaps tend to be overcautious.
In regards to dental imaging the dentist should determine the extent and frequency of radiographs based on individual risks
I'm not sure there is anything scientific to back that up clem, sounds like a lot of assumption. There are new accreditation standards requiring monitoring of excess raditaion in individuals, primarily due to the concern of lifetime accumulation. So it's not a free for all. I'd think by the time a tech tried to re-xray a third time, i'd be asking for someone competent.

Last edited:
Last edited:
No, 30 "exposures" are you having the 18 xrays or just one panorex?

RP, I'm not sure what I am having, the thing is I've not had a full set of the whole lot upper and lower done in my lifetime...and the new dentist saw some hidden pieces of decay in teeth near the single ones he was xraying last week. He suggested getting all lower and upper jaw done to have a good check, but don't know how this would be done ?