What is the exposure in dental radiographs?
Bitewings (4 films): 0.038 mSv
Full mouth series (18 films): 0.150 mSv
Panorex (jaw film): 0.019 mSv
People are exposed to an average of 3.000 mSv per year from natural sources—it would take around 20 full series x-rays to equal the amount of radiation the average person picks up in a year from outer space, the Earth, natural materials, foods and other people. Living in a brick building adds an additional 0.01 mSv per year compared to living in a wooden structure. You also pick up additional radiation (approximately 0.02 mSv per year) sleeping next to someone.
Is it safe to get an x-ray while I'm pregnant?
Yes, it’s often safe to get an x-ray during pregnancy. The level of safety depends on the type of x-ray you need and exactly how much radiation you’re going to be exposed to.
Most diagnostic x-rays don’t expose the fetus to high enough levels of radiation to cause a problem. It is true though that the greater your exposure is to radiation, the greater the risk could be to your baby.
While fetal exposure over 10 rads (the unit of measurement for absorbed radiation) has been shown to increase the risks for mental retardation and eye abnormalities, you needn’t worry. It’s rare for a single x-ray or group of diagnostic x-rays to exceed 5 rads.
For example, the amount of radiation that a baby gets from a mother’s dental x-ray is only 0.01 millirad. Since a rad is equal to 1,000 millirads, one would have to have 100,000 dental x-rays for the baby to receive just one rad. Other estimated fetal doses are 60 millirads for a chest x-ray, 290 millirads for an abdominal x-ray and 800 millirads for a computerized tomographic (CT) scan.
To put this in perspective, during the normal course of a pregnancy you and your baby are exposed to about 90 to 100 millirads of natural radiation from the sun and earth.
What is infection control?
Talk to your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about dental x-rays or any of our procedures.