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Can Dental X-Rays Cause Cancer?

Sep 30th, 2021

dental x ray

The short answer is that the odds of getting cancer from modern low-dose dental x-rays is negligibly low. To understand how low the odds are, let’s put it into perspective, but first let’s talk about measurements.

Internationally, radiation is typically measured in a unit called a sievert (Sv for short). It’s generally accepted that one sievert increases the odds of cancer by 5.5%. But when talking about sources of radiation in everyday life, the millionth of a sievert or micro-Sievert (μSv) is used.

Now that we covered measurement, let’s talk about how much radiation you get from a single dental x-ray. Some modern low-dose x-ray manufacturers report figures as low 3μSv per x-ray. That’s the equivalent radiation you get from eating thirty bananas. If you eat a banana every three days for a year, you would get four times more radiation from bananas than a dental x-ray.

Even if you don’t eat bananas, you still get 3100μSv of radiation each year just from existing. This radiation comes from the sun, the earth itself, and even from radioactive potassium and carbon inside your own body. This means that natural background radiation is responsible for a thousand times more radiation than a dental x-ray, every year.

If you did want to reduce unnatural radiation exposure you may want to consider cutting down on flying. A flight across the contiguous United States can expose you to ten times more radiation than a dental x-ray. But before you consider not flying anymore, keep in mind that at 35μSv, that cross-country flight is still a very low dose of radiation.

At the end of the day, x-rays are a dentist’s best option for seeing what’s happening inside the tooth and catching serious dental issues early.

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Here at Paul Mathew, D.D.S. we work diligently to protect our patients' privacy. Requesting an appointment via our Internet portal is considered part of what the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has identified as electronically protected healthcare information or ePHI. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, there are people or entities that may attempt to intercept the data you transmit to us. By checking the "I agree" box, and electronically making an appointment request, you acknowledge that you are making an appointment over the internet and that Paul Mathew, D.D.S. will keep this information confidential but cannot guarantee that others, outside of our practice, may illegally intercept this communication. By accepting these terms and conditions and sending this request via our Internet portal, you accept the inherent risk(s) associated with making this request for an appointment. If you do not accept the terms and conditions, you are always welcome to contact our office via telephone to schedule your appointment.

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Here at Paul Mathew, D.D.S. we work diligently to protect our patients' privacy. Requesting an appointment via our Internet portal is considered part of what the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has identified as electronically protected healthcare information or ePHI. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, there are people or entities that may attempt to intercept the data you transmit to us. By checking the "I agree" box, and electronically making an appointment request, you acknowledge that you are making an appointment over the internet and that Paul Mathew, D.D.S. will keep this information confidential but cannot guarantee that others, outside of our practice, may illegally intercept this communication. By accepting these terms and conditions and sending this request via our Internet portal, you accept the inherent risk(s) associated with making this request for an appointment. If you do not accept the terms and conditions, you are always welcome to contact our office via telephone to schedule your appointment.

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The information presented here is not intended or implied to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should be used for informational purposes only.