Dr. Fondriest and our team understand that about half of Americans avoid dental visits, but we’re here to relieve your fears and misconceptions. A common reason for avoiding dental visits is fear of being exposed to too much radiation during dental x-rays. Although this used to be a legitimate fear, technology has improved so much that having dental x-rays taken is nothing to be afraid of anymore. In fact, we’ve put together a little quiz to see how much you really know about modern dental x-rays and radiation exposure.
1. What is an x-ray?
A. A machine used to calibrate radio frequencies
B. Waves of energy that makes pictures of the inside of objects
C. Thousands of colors reflected off a single point
2. What is radiation measured in?
A. Rem or mrem (millirem)
B. Liters or milliliters
C. Rad or millirad
3. How much radiation is the average person exposed to each year?
A. 600 mrem
B. 16 mrem
C. 360 mrem
4. From which activities can you be exposed to radiation?
A. Skydiving, Scuba Diving, and Horseback Riding
B. Sleeping next to someone, Living in a brick house, and Flying on an Airplane
C. Caroling in December, Working in an animal hospital, and Performing martial arts
5. How much radiation are you exposed to during dental x-rays?
A. 2-3 mrem
B. 20-30 mrem
C. 200-300 mrem
6. Is it worth avoiding the dentist, just to avoid the risk of radiation?
Answers and Explanations
1. The correct answer is B. An x-ray is simply waves of energy that are powerful enough to go inside of objects, such as our bodies, and take images. The only difference between x-rays and light is that light is not powerful enough to go inside objects and therefore only takes images of the outside of something.
2. The correct answer is A. Radiation is measured in rem, but because that unit is so large, radiation is more commonly measured in millirem. One rem equals 1,000 millirem, or mrem.
3. The correct answer is C. Did this question trick you? According to The National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP), the average person is exposed to 360 mrem annually.
4. The correct answer is B. Everyday activities, such as living in a house with a smoke detector, cooking with natural gas, and reading a book for 3 hours every day, as well as the activities mentioned above, all expose you to radiation! If you think the radiation during a dentist visit is too much, then unfortunately you may never be able to fly on an airplane again. Just one plane ride from New York City to Los Angeles exposes you to 5 mrem.
5. The correct answer is A. Have we convinced you yet? Taking dental x-rays exposes you to only 2-3 mrem! That number is insignificant when compared to the total amount of radiation you are exposed to annually.
6. The correct answer is All of the above. The truth is, visiting the dentist and exposing yourself to the minimal amount of radiation required for dental x-rays is well worth the risk. Dental x-rays will help Dr. Fondriest see exactly what is happening inside of your mouth. The x-rays will allow him and our team to catch any problems before they get too serious and will give him the aid he needs in repairing your smile.