Modern Dental X-Rays: Safety and Minimizing Radiation Exposure 

Dr. Derek and male patientDental X-rays are a cornerstone of accurate diagnosis and successful root canal treatment. At Eastern Iowa Endodontics, we understand you might have concerns about radiation exposure. Rest assured, Dr. Derek Peek and our team are committed to your safety. We utilize the latest advancements in digital X-ray technology, adhering to the strictest safety guidelines set forth by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Learn more or schedule a consultation by calling our endodontic specialists in Cedar Rapids, IA, at (319) 382-8002


What Are Dental X-Rays?

Dental X-rays, also known as dental radiographs, are images of your teeth and jawbone captured using invisible electromagnetic radiation. These images are a crucial diagnostic tool in modern dentistry, allowing dentists to see structures hidden beneath the surface of your teeth and gums.

There are different types of dental X-rays used for various purposes:

  • Bitewing X-rays: These capture the upper and lower teeth in a single image, ideal for detecting cavities between teeth and bone loss associated with gum disease.
  • Periapical X-rays: These provide a detailed view of one or two teeth, including the roots, useful for evaluating root health and potential infections.
  • Panoramic X-rays: This panoramic image captures your entire mouth, including all teeth, upper and lower jaws, and sinuses, beneficial for diagnosing wisdom teeth issues or jawbone abnormalities.
  • Cone Beam CT (CBCT) scans: This advanced imaging technique creates a 3D image of your teeth and jawbone, providing the most detailed information for complex cases.


Why Are Dental X-Rays Necessary for Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal therapy is a procedure to save a tooth with a severely infected or damaged pulp (the inner soft tissue containing nerves and blood vessels). Dental X-rays play a vital role in the success of root canal treatment by:

  • Diagnosing the Need for Root Canal Therapy: X-rays can reveal the extent of infection or damage within the tooth pulp, helping Dr. Peek determine if root canal therapy is necessary.
  • Identifying the Anatomy of the Tooth: X-rays provide a clear picture of the tooth’s root canals, including their number, shape, and curvature. This information is crucial for planning the root canal procedure and ensuring thorough cleaning and disinfection of all canals.
  • Evaluating Treatment Success: After root canal therapy, follow-up X-rays allow Dr. Peek to assess the effectiveness of treatment and identify any remaining infection or issues with the filling material.


Recent Updates in Dental X-Ray Safety

Discontinuation of Routine Lead Aprons and Thyroid Collars

Dr. Derek and pediatric patientThe ADA no longer recommends the routine use of lead aprons and thyroid collars for patients undergoing dental X-rays. Advancements in technology allow modern X-ray machines to capture high-quality images with significantly lower radiation doses.

Emphasis on Diagnostic Justification

Dr. Peek will only recommend dental X-rays when necessary for your individual situation and when the benefits of diagnosis outweigh the minimal radiation exposure.

Digital X-ray Technology

Eastern Iowa Endodontics utilizes digital X-rays, which offer several advantages over traditional film X-rays. Digital X-rays require even lower radiation doses while producing clearer and more detailed images.


Why Choose Dr. Peek for Endodontic Dental X-Rays?

Dr. Peek understands the importance of minimizing radiation exposure while obtaining high-quality dental X-rays for accurate diagnosis and successful root canal treatment. Here’s why you should choose Dr. Peek for your endodontic dental X-rays:

  • Commitment to Patient Safety: Dr. Peek adheres to the latest ADA guidelines on dental X-ray safety. He utilizes modern digital X-ray technology that delivers minimal radiation doses while capturing clear and detailed images.
  • Diagnostic Necessity: Dr. Peek prioritizes the justification for X-rays. He will only recommend X-rays when necessary for your specific case and when the diagnostic benefits outweigh the minimal radiation exposure.
  • Expertise in Root Canal Treatment: Dr. Peek is a board-certified endodontist who possesses in-depth knowledge of dental anatomy and root canal structures. This expertise allows him to interpret X-ray images effectively, identifying critical details for accurate diagnosis and treatment planning of your root canal therapy.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to wear a lead apron or thyroid collar during dental X-rays?

No, based on the latest recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA),  the routine use of lead aprons and thyroid collars for patients undergoing dental X-rays is no longer recommended. This applies to various dental X-rays, including intraoral, panoramic, cephalometric, and CBCT imaging.  Modern dental X-ray technology utilizes significantly lower radiation doses while capturing high-quality images.

What can I expect during a dental X-ray?

Dental X-rays are a quick and painless procedure. Here’s a general overview of what to expect:

  1. The dental staff will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
  2. The staff will position the X-ray machine and sensor (or film) in your mouth to capture the necessary images.
  3. The X-ray image will be captured digitally, eliminating the need for traditional film processing.
  4. The digital image will be displayed on a screen for the endodontist to review.
What if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding? Are dental X-rays safe?

The American Dental Association (ADA) considers dental X-rays safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women when necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment. The radiation doses involved in dental X-rays are very low, and precautions are taken to minimize exposure to the fetus or infant. However, it’s important to inform your provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before any X-rays are taken. 

I'm concerned about radiation exposure. Can I skip dental X-rays altogether?

While your concern about radiation exposure is understandable, dental X-rays are a valuable diagnostic tool for dentists. They provide essential information about your teeth, jawbone, and underlying structures that can’t be obtained through visual examination alone. Skipping X-rays altogether could hinder accurate diagnosis and treatment planning.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Endodontic Specialist Today

Don’t let fear of radiation exposure prevent you from seeking the dental care you need. If you’re experiencing tooth pain or have any questions about root canal treatment, contact Eastern Iowa Endodontics today at (319) 382-8002 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Peek. We’ll address your concerns, explain the benefits of dental X-rays in your specific case, and utilize the safest and most effective diagnostic tools to ensure a healthy and pain-free smile.