Why responsible pediatric dental radiology is a must

January 14, 2015
Laura Dorr

Issue 9

Everyone knows that children need moderation in their lives. Giving a child too much sugar will undoubtedly result in a headache for parents. Exposing that child to excessive radiation? That can also only end poorly.

Everyone knows that children need moderation in their lives. Giving a child too much sugar will undoubtedly result in a headache for parents. Exposing that child to excessive radiation? That can also only end poorly.

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It’s with this in mind that dental professionals are joining Image Gently’s upcoming education and awareness initiative promoting the responsible use of x-rays in pediatric dental radiology. Image Gently, also known as the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, is a coalition of healthcare organizations dedicated to providing safe pediatric imaging. By raising awareness of the need to adjust radiation doses for children, the Alliance aims to change the current practices.

Related reading; 5 products making pediatric dentistry easier while delivering better results 

Since radiation-associated risk is greater in children due to their longer life expectancy (that provides more opportunities for radiation exposure and radiosensitivity), radiation protection can be a critical safety issue.

“This campaign is designed to change practice by increasing awareness of opportunities to improve radiation protection when imaging children in dental practices,” said William Scarfe, BDS, FRACDS, MS, a professor and director, of Radiology and Imaging Science in the Department of Surgical and Hospital Dentistry at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. “Six practical steps underline the principle that one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to using radiography during pediatric dental procedures. When we image children, we should image gently – more is often not better.”

Related reading; ADA updates dental x-ray recommendations

Scarfe, along with an international team of dental and medical radiologists and specialists, discussed the implications of the campaign in a recent article published in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology.  The article outlines a six-step plan promoted by the campaign. The plan suggests that dentists:

- Select x-rays for a patient’s individual needs, not as routine.

- Use the fastest image receptor possible, E- or F-speed film or digital sensors

- Aim the x-ray beam to expose only the area of interest

- Use thyroid collars

- Child-size the exposure

- Use cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) only when necessary

Related reading: Collaboration between dentists and doctors in pediatric oral health: A view from a medical magazine and the AAPD

The Image Gently in Dentistry campaign will launch September 24, coinciding with the annual American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology conference in Orlando, and the annual meeting of the American Dental Association in San Antonio.