How many dental X-rays are too many?


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32 comments

  1. Wally West

    I hadn’t really thought about this being an issue. I have been to the dentist plenty of times because I have really bad teeth. I have gotten a few dental x-rays, but I don’t think that it is enough to be bad for my health. I have needed the x-rays to see what was wrong with my teeth, so it is worth it.

  2. Rhys Rawson

    Thanks for the information on the safety and necessity of dental x-rays. I know dental x-rays can identify hidden dental decay, but I often worry about how safe they are. I fall under the category outlined by the ADA of “an adult with good oral health and low risk of dental problems” so I suppose an x-ray every 2 to 3 years shouldn’t be too bad. Great article!

  3. Name (required)

    8-9 micro sieverts per x ray compared to 3000-4000 a year naturally,, that is good info. thank you.

  4. Vuthy

    I have been taken x-Ray for many time. Because my suspect me to have lung disease. I’m so wary abo my health. And i want to ask you that what wil happen in the near future for my health? What should I do now ?

  5. Ed Maloney

    Why does a dentist always want to take his own x-ray even when another dentist just took one a few days prior which covers the exact same area? Don’t they know their is a cumulative cancer risk? Their techs always pooh-pooh the effect of the radiation by saying it is the same as being in the sun and then they go hide when they take the picture.I had 5 in one week and am concerned.

  6. Ernest Jackson

    I found this information very informative. I am 83 healthy and tend not to accept without question dentist or doctors advice. I recently declined my dentists request for the x-ray. After reading your information I feel justified in my decision. Thanks

  7. Lewis

    How many x-rays is normal for one dental visit? I cannot find this anywhere on line with a google search. This week a new dental assistant took 20 x-rays of my teeth. I have not been having problems and it was at the very beginning of the session and I had not yet had my teeth cleaned. I was there for cleaning and didn’t know they were going to do x-rays. I find dental x-rays very uncomfortable and was not expecting to have them on this visit. I’d had them 6 months ago, but not 20. I think this is excessive. They told me that 20 is their standard in a set of x-rays.

    I was not concerned about the radiation at the time. I don’t like all the messing around inside my mouth for a diagnostic tool which does nothing for my dental hygiene.

    • Larry

      They did the same thing to me. I go for a simple teeth cleaning and get pressured into 18 Xrays, even though I have no problems with my teeth. The Xrays were ordered without the dentist even examining me. Seems like more of a business model for the dentist than interest in the patient. No wonder Dental patient retention sucks.

    • Isa

      I just had my first initial visit with a new dentist today. I have a new plan called delta dental. The tech. Took 18 X-rays in one sitting. She said according to this plan it was required. I have gone to other dentist all my life and never had this happen before. Isn’t this a dangerous practice? They also still put Mercury filings in stead of the safe white filings. Red flag..?. Anyone know what is going on?

        • GeraldS

          Really?? Eighteen seems excessive. I was angry with mine for doing 12. I find the attitude quite dismissive when I question it
          I am due a root canal and intend to absolutely refuse xrays so they can just refuse to do it, or take the tooth out. I don.t like the arrogance of some practitioners as if you are ignorant and they resent you asking.

    • Dina

      That sounds quite wrong, 20 is very excessive in any book. No matter what. I had about 8, the she repeated them because thought she had missed something. I was livid. The she took another one to send off to the hospital as I am being referred. Why can they not damned well email the films? In this day and age, they are sending hard copy of xrays – when they can do a digital and send without repeating the xray. I am really really angry and she was dismissive when I questioned it.

  8. Babaesot

    They always have me taken x ray everytime i come in for cleaning or so. I once was told too much of it is bad. Now am more concerned I just had my root canal and had about 4-5 times x ray to check on the tooth they were working on in a matter of an hour. I will have to refuse future X ray.

  9. David J

    I recently arrived in Miami from Montreal. I cannot find a dental clinic here which will even agree to clean my teeth without taking a full set of xrays. “Sorry Sir, we could be liable for undiagnosed conditions”. A Dr does does order body xrays during an annual checkup. “See this grey spot that is a little more grey than the normal grey, well it may not hurt but it will cost you $3000 for us to make it better and by the way your previous dentist was a charlatan and all his work will need to be redone”. I have had enough of this profession!

  10. Gerry

    I have been receiving regular X-rays recently in connection with a root canal procedure I am undergoing. More on Thursday. After the dentist lines up the machine he slaps this heavy shield on my chest then he and his assistant run for the door. I feel like I should be running with them!

    last year after receiving a similar number of dental X-rays I developed a couple of skin cancers on the same side of my face that had to be removed. Just a coincidence presumably?

    I await to see what happens this time.

    • georgeen comerford

      I’ve been thinking the same thing! I’ve developed skin cancer in the exact spot on my cheek where assorted dentists have been directly placing the xray machine extension on my skin (I don’t know the exact term for the device) for bite-wing xrays. Over the years (I’m a senior citizen) starting from the 1950’s,which I’m sure had equipment that produced higher levels of radiation than now, (plus all those times the dentist would do an”extra exposure”- just to make sure he “got it”) have been accumulative. I’m really angry at being told how LOW the radiation is. Really?

      • GeraldS

        not sure if there is any consolation, but skin cancer in all I have read, seems not related to xrays
        but I guess there is no complete proof. I have read that Brain tumour is more likely and also jaw tumours. Not skin cancers. I am dreadin g it, because I let my dentist do far too many and I have anxiety anyway.

  11. Eileen

    I had a lot of x-rays as a child because I had to get braces. I have developed hypothyroidism and I’m wondering since they never put a neck guard on me, if the excessive x-rays may be part of what caused the condition. I recently went to a new chiropractor and the number of x-rays he ordered was ridiculous. I’m angry with myself for submitting to so many. In the end I stopped seeing him for other reasons as well. I agree with a previous person that posted earlier, in that dental and medical professionals are seeing diagnostics as another revenue stream to their businesses. It’s so disheartening. I’m at odds with my current allopathic doctor (I can’t afford a Naturopath) re: mammograms. I refuse. I got a thermogram instead but it cost me $600.00 out of pocket! Healthcare in my province will only pay for allopathic diagnostics so if a person wants homeopathic/natuorpathic they have to pay themselves. The homeopath I went to wants me to have it done every 9 months! It seems everything is about money these days. It’s very discouraging.

  12. Karen

    I had to have a veneer replaced that broke 3 years after I had a done. Since the dentist that made the veneer said it had been 3 years since i had been to his office, the state of MA requires a full mouth xray before he could treat me. He took 20 Xrays of my mouth. Is this normal??

    I am very worried about the amount of radiation exposure.

    Thanks,
    Karen

  13. Logan

    I had a set of braces when I was 14 years old. Then jaw surgery as a young adult. This required another set of braces. Altogether I had numerous X-rays taken for all these procedures. I did not count. After being X-rayed regularly for dental checkups and teeth cleanings, I have within the last 10 years refused X-rays. My teeth are in good health. I have One filing from a spot under one of the caps for the braces. Some dentists require a waiver to be signed to refuse X-rays. This is fine with me to avoid any more radiation.

  14. condor9

    Indeed, I was also given the 18 x-ray treatment two weeks ago. The most I had taken any other time was 8 and only because the dentist knew exactly the issue he was looking for. This time I was simply sat down and told 18 x-rays BEFORE the dentist would even see me.

  15. T Cummings

    I just went to a new dentist for a cleaning. I refused to be x-rayed. They refused to treat me and told me it was against the law for them to treat me without taking the required x-rays first. I told them I wasn’t having any major problems and wanted the dentist to examine me and assess the need for x-rays. They said that seeing me without x-rays is called neglective care and is against the law. Thanks ADA. Keep in mind that this is the same organization that says mercury amalgams are safe.

  16. Dustin Ginsberg

    I let my current dentist take a full set of x-rays when I first saw him about five years ago. I refused a full set thereafter, although there have been numerous x-rays of individual areas for procedures by him and specialists for oral surgery, periodontal work, and a root canal, as well as crown fittings. After the second year when I refused a regular full set of x-rays at a cleaning, the dentist had me sign a waiver of liability–something I never encountered before. Now he wants to take another full set, after five years, which may seem reasonable, but there have been already been numerous x-rays for these other procedures. In his mind this is catching things early and preventing more drastic procedures. This is assuming he is honest, which I believe he is, although I have had another dentist, who although he did work good work, identified something as a cavity that wasn’t; I didn’t have it done and it was confirmed by my next dentist to not be a cavity, who didn’t call him dishonest, just, euphemistically, “aggressive”. Who knows how much other work by that dentist was unnecessary. I also had an oral surgeon, referred by my current dentist, who removed an old root canal tooth and then talked me into getting a bone graft as the only chance for an implant if I wanted one later–this cost 50% more than the extraction, and it turned out he knew new before he did it that it wouldn’t do anything to allow me to have an implant, which he basically admitted afterward. Getting back to my current dentist, after replacing a filling that came out, (not his work) and repairing some bonding on my front tooth, he scheduled me for a cleaning and a full set of x-rays, and said he wouldn’t be able to have me as a patient if I didn’t have them. I asked him about the waiver he had me sign before, and he said those are basically worthless. And he doesn’t even use digital x-rays. I’m going to ask if he at least uses fast film. While saying that CT scans are overused and can cause cancer, he pooh-poohs any danger from dental x-rays, comparing it to an airplane trip or a few days in the sun. Even the official sites do this, which gives me no confidence in the profession because the same dose of radiation you might get over your whole body in an airplane trip, or over a few days in the sun, is not the same to the tissues as that same dose directed at a small area in a split second. To make this comparison is insulting to patients.

  17. Dustin Ginsberg

    Where is my extensive comment, which I submitted yesterday or the day before?

  18. Dustin Ginsberg

    (I am this comment somewhat rewritten, which didn’t successfully post the other day.)

    I have had a dentist in the past who did good work but wanted to fill a small cavity, which I did not have done, and I confirmed with a new dentist a year later that it wasn’t a cavity. When I asked the new dentist if the previous dentist was dishonest, he said, euphemistically, he would say he was “aggressive”. More recently, a few years ago I was referred to an oral surgeon to extract an old root canal at the back of my upper jaw, and afterward he talked me into getting a bone graft as the only possible way to have an implant if I wanted one later, as there needed to be more distance to the nasal cavity. This procedure was 50% more expensive than the extraction, exposed me to foreign materials and panoramic set of x-rays after six months, not to mention monthly visits to check the healing for six months. After he reviewed the panoramic x-rays, at the end of this period, he said the space had not increased, and I wouldn’t be able to have an implant unless I had a more drastic procedure called a palate lift, which he didn’t recommend. I asked him does the bone graft ever increase the vertical distance, and he said no, only the width. I said, that he knew that before he did the procedure, and he didn’t reply, basically admitting he scammed me. When I related this story to a periodontist, and I said that oral surgeon was unethical, he laughingly said he was following a business model.

    Regarding x-rays, I routinely refuse regular x-rays except the first set. With my current dentist I had a full set done when I first saw him five years ago. After refusing after one year to have another set, the second year he had to sign waiver of liability–no dentist had never done that before. Now he wants me to have another full set and says he won’t be able to see me as a patient unless I do (and wants to do another full set every year hereafter, which is even more problematic). A second set after five years seems reasonable, although I’ve had numerous X-rays for specific procedures in that timeframe. I asked him about signing a waiver again and he said those are worthless. Also he uses film, not digital x-rays. I’m going to ask him if he uses the standard D speed or the faster F speed film, which may be more equivalent to digital X-ray levels. One thing that irks me is that he, as does the dental establishment, while admitting the dangers of CAT scans, pooh-poohs the dangers of dental x-rays, using the standard retort that it is equivalent to an airplane flight or a few days background radiation. This diminishes the credibility of the dental Industry, as a certain amount of radiation received over your whole body over hours or days is not the same to the tissues as that same amount of radiation focused on one spot and delivered in a split second. This comparison is just insulting to the patient and the public at large.

    • Bob Smith

      Dustin see my comment i just posted. I never got headaches before either. Now i get headaches. Im 39 yrs old, why this year my body is suddenly going through all these “changes” and new issues after they fried my head that day a year ago? I think i need to request an mri from my pcp. See my comment for my story.

  19. Geraldine Smith

    I recently had several xrays taken by my dentist. She repeated the first lot, thinking something may not have shown up
    I also had one done by the emergency I dentist when I had a nerve removed
    I did say how worried I was but she was quite dismissive, and just said ‘oh, you get the same amount in a flight to Spain of radiation, forget about it…’ this did nothing to reassure me, as I hardly ever fly to Spain, so it is little consolation.

  20. Lois

    I have had 29 dental x-rays since August 2015 and it is now August 2016. I’m worried about it but the dentist and oral surgeon say they are necessary. Frankly, I’m scared.

  21. Candy

    It is too late to say no. I already had 20 or so x rays in past 20 years. I didn’t have any the following 10 years. I am ok now. But cancer can come any time years later. I guest you can’t help.

  22. Bob Smith

    My dentist gave me 25 xrays in a row at my appointment a year ago before pulling a tooth, then about 5 more after i got dry socket the next week. I have not felt the same for the past year. I have ringing in my ears, i pour sweat constantly, terrible sleep patterns, my skin gets so oily i have to wipe it down every hour now!

    My primary care ph, just ran blood tests for me and all results came back normal and he gave me a high five. Can brain tumors hide from blood tests? Surely he would have said something if there was a sign in the results?

    My dentist assistant recently told me to take more xrays for more fillings and procedures and i declined cause of my worries, i mean 400 units of radiation in 2 weeks was absurd to me. Excessive. She got noticeably irritated and started trying to argue with me, i immediately stopped the convo by saying: “hey, you guys took like 30 xrays of my skull and brain and face last year. Use those. Cause you’re not getting any more.”

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