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Exposure to dental X-rays has been significantly associated with an increased risk of cancer. Recent studies have shown that dentists and dental assistants have an increased risk of thyroid cancer, as well as other diseases including meningiomas and salivary tumors.
While occupational radiation exposure in dental offices is lower than that in hospitals, this research shows multiple low-dose exposures can cause health problems.
The American Dental Association gives several guidelines to limit radiation exposure for patients and dental professionals.
To protect patients, aprons should be properly stored and once a year checked for tears and cracks. Additionally, patients can wear a lead-impregnated thyroid to protect the thyroid gland.
During exposure, staff should never stand in the way of the beam. The ADA requires personnel to stay between 90 and 135 degrees of the direction of the beam and at least 6 feet away from the patient. And whenever possible, staff should stand behind a protective barrier with a leaded glass window. Additionally, staff working with X-rays can wear a monitoring device to track radiation exposure, which can’t exceed 50 millisieverts a year.
The ADA also recommends dentists develop a radiation-protection program for their office, educate staff and use barriers. Dentists must also stay up-to-date on safety measures and equipment that improves diagnostics while decreasing exposure.
Digital imaging reduces radiation dose by as much as 60 percent compared to film systems, without compromising diagnostic quality.
Acteon, a leader in digital imaging for dental professionals, recently debuted new tools to protect patients and staff while providing high-quality imaging. Sopix Inside and Sopix 2 Inside feature ACE (automatic control exposure) technology that creates “intelligent radiation.” Sopix Inside sensors automatically stop once they have received the energy required to produce high-quality images, protecting patients from unnecessary radiation. Acteon’s X-Mind Unity intraoral system uses ACE technology present in the Sopix Inside sensor to capture an optimal image with 50 percent less radiation, according to the patient morphology.
This ebook outlines ADA protocols to reduce radiation and the new generation of intraoral technology that has ushered radiology and patient safety into a new era.