X-Ray Exposure | Delmarva Dental Services

X-Ray Exposure

Radiographs (X-rays) have a huge impact upon our lives from airport scanners to cancer treatment but in many ways they are a mystery to most people. X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen. The first dental x-ray on a living person was taken in New Orleans in 1896. Since that time they have been used for diagnosis and treatment of injury and disease. An x-ray is a type of electromagnetic energy. Electromagnetic energy is considered radiation. There are two types of electromagnetic energy (waves), nonionizing (low frequency) and ionizing (high frequency) energy. Examples of nonionizing radiation are UV light, visible light, microwaves and radio waves. Xrays are ionizing radiation which can damage cells including DNA by removing an electron (ionizing) from the atoms in molecules. The higher the x-ray dose and the faster it is applied, the greater the damage. Low doses spread out over time are thought to be harmless because the body repairs any damage. We have evidence of the cancer causing effects of high doses from studies of atom bomb survivors in Japan and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdownRadiation doses can be measured in many ways. The more common ways to measure is the biological effect on the body. The older unit of measure was the Rem, and millirem. The newer international measure is the Sievert, millisievert or microsievert. These measurements are like the meter and millimeter for distance.Ionizing radiation (x-rays) can come from many sources such as cosmic radiation from our solar system, radioactive elements in the soil, and radon from the air. The average person receives around 600 millirems (6,000uSv) per year, half from the environment and half from medical procedures. Delmarva Dental Services is sensitive to your concerns and have provided the following table showing the amount of radiation received to the whole body from various radiation sources.