A lot of people are scared of how much radiation they’re getting when taking dental x-rays, so dental technology is getting more and more advanced to sooth people’s concerns. We strive to minimize radiation, which is why we use Dexis digital X-Rays.

The digital X-Rays that we use in our holistic Lakeview / Wrigleyville office only give off 0.1 mrem. Traditional x-rays gave off 0.5mrem. So there is 5x less radiation in our digital x-rays. The average American receives a radiation dose of about 620millirem each year. Half comes from natural background radiation. So the level of dental radiation exposure is a small price to pay for getting the right image to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.

Aside from the reduced radiation, there are a few other major benefits of digital x-rays compared to traditional. For one, instead of looking at a lightbox at a tiny image, we can blow it up to be the size of the whole computer or TV screen. We can also adjust the contrast of the image on the computer, making any decay or infection much easier to see. This is great because we can catch cavities while they are incipient (meaning Small or just starting). This may also give opportunity to prevent it from getting bigger or perhaps remineralize or reverse it! It may give you a chance to treat it at home, and avoid getting a filling altogether. If that’s not holistic dentistry in action, we’d love to hear what is.

Digital x-rays are also faster and more comfortable than traditional x-rays. Instead of having to take an x-ray and then swap out the film, we can just put the sensor in your mouth, take the image, and then move it to the next desired location. You also don’t have to wait around for the x-rays to develop — we have them available instantly.

We like to be eco-friendly, so digital x-rays were a natural fit for our practice. Normal dental x-ray film contains lead, fixer, and developer chemicals that must be carefully disposed of. Even with a special company hauling away these toxins, who knows where they’ll end up? There are no processing chemicals with digital x-rays.

Every so often, patients will refuse X-rays because they fear the extra radiation. We understand the desire to live naturally and protect yourself from radiation, but in the case of natural radiation, it’s organic and all around us.

Radiation is everywhere – from rocks, the sun, food, and even other people. Radiation in low levels is around us all the time, and it’s impossible to completely avoid. But that’s ok because it’s not harmful in low doses.

Digital X-Ray technology exposes us to less radiation than many things we do every day. Consider the graph below:


The US government allows a member of the public to be exposed to 1000 microsieverts of artificial radiation a  year (this doesn’t count the exposure from being around rocks or other people). For reference, 42mrem for a breast mammogram per breast. Abdominal x-ray is 700mrem. The traditional dental x-ray is 0.5mrem and a digital dental x-ray is 0.1mrem. Dental X-Rays are a small source, when in context. 

The risks of not detecting tooth decay far outweigh the risks from dental X-Ray radiation. Dental X-rays are essential to diagnosing decay or infection in the mouth. We can find suspicious spots in the teeth with an instrument, but most of the time, we can’t confirm it’s a cavity or an infection until we take an X-Ray. Furthermore, without X-Rays, sometimes insurance companies refuse to reimburse a claim.

Our office takes into consideration your individual needs, risk for cavities and infections and medical history. When considering taking dental x-rays, usually the X-Ray won’t hurt you, but untreated tooth decay might.


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