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Dental X-Rays
Old 03-10-2011, 02:49 PM   #1
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Dental X-Rays

A broken filling has made it necessary for an unscheduled dentist visit, away from my regular dentist. No doubt an X-Ray will be imposed.

Is this absolutely necessary and is there a reasonable way to avoid one? My body has already had enough radiation and doesn't need any more, and future radiography should be limited to "needed" and not "helpful" or "nice to have".
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:01 PM   #2
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The amount of radiation from a plain diagnostic dental x-ray is so low as to be virtually indistinguishable from background "noise." Think flying in an airplane, living in a city at altitude, etc. Not that you would want it for no reason but, at least statistically, you would be better off worrying about almost anything else.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:43 PM   #3
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OTOH if the DDS wants to do a full bitewing, with one of them rotating machines, start asking questions.
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:49 PM   #4
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I know the dosage is low, but my dentist wants xrays every time I see him (annually unless something comes up). I simply decline on alternate years, so I get them every other year.

Of course if I have a problem, I can usually understand why he wants a special xray of that, and I don't mind those.

But nine times out of ten, he looks at the xray very carefully, then says "Well, it all looks good." If I am only there for my annual cleaning and checkup, and have no problem I'm aware of, I kind of resent being exposed to unnecessary radiation for really no reason at all.
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:55 PM   #5
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Dental X-Rays

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Advances in x-ray equipment, especially film technology, allow your dentist to get a good x-ray image using much less radiation than was previously required. A typical dental x-ray image exposes you to only about 2 or 3 mrem. The National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) says that the average resident of the U.S. receives about 360 mrem every year from background sources. This comes from outer space, radioactive materials in the earth, and small amounts of radioactive material in most foods we consume.
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:22 PM   #6
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Just make sure they put that lead apron on you, just in case you're pregnant and don't know it.

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Old 03-10-2011, 05:22 PM   #7
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OK. One less thing to worry about. Thanks. I think.
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Old 03-12-2011, 03:41 PM   #8
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Old 03-12-2011, 05:51 PM   #9
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. . . I kind of resent being exposed to unnecessary radiation for really no reason at all.
It's not for nothing! Boat payments, country club dues, the Lexus needs a new heated mirror, etc.
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:52 PM   #10
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wow! You guys, and gals, are tough. I'm a dentist and I don't own a boat, don't belong to a country club and drive a '04 camry. Let's talk about x-rays. As masterblaster said one x-ray is 2 mrems. extremely small amount of radiation. Each patient is looked at differently depending on their past history of decay. Some are prone to decay due to diet, oral hygiene, etc. The "average" patient will get 4 x-rays once a year to spot any early signs of decay and "gum disease". Every 3 to 5 you will have a full mouth x-ray which is about 18 x-rays. This will help to spot any infections, and get a better look at any "gum disease". We don't take these x-rays to get rich. X-rays are $10-15 each. Not going to get rich that way. The x-rays are taken to prevent a small cavity from becoming a big cavity, which can happen surprisingly fast. If we wanted to get rich we would let the small cavities become big ones. A simple filling is $100-200. A root canal, and crown is $2,000. If you don't want x-rays done you can't be forced to have them, but they are a small price to pay for prevention.
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Old 03-12-2011, 08:02 PM   #11
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wow! You guys, and gals, are tough. I'm a dentist and I don't own a boat, don't belong to a country club and drive a '04 camry. ....

Hi MN - do u own an ice house for fishing or snowmobile or cabin for the summer? That's my MN impression, I'm a transplant to the Twin Cities about 6 years ago and everyone around me has "toys".
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Old 03-12-2011, 08:06 PM   #12
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I just had my first Panorex xray done on my last cleaning visit. It was a pretty cool machine and image (once a techno-geek, always a...).
I've had peridontal disease in the past as result of not being able to afford to go to a dentist while in college. I get 4 cleanings a year (my choice) to keep a recurrence at bay and avoid repeats of the deep scaling procedure.
My dentist keeps a very close eye on any more bone loss happening. So far so good.
My teeth also tend to shear off small pieces here and there, requiring partial surface rebuilding or worst case, a crown.
I have Delta Dental Plan A insurance through AARP. For my needs, $52 a month is a small price to pay. They are not making a lot of net profit from my premiums.
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Old 03-12-2011, 08:39 PM   #13
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You probably are right. I was a little hard and for that I apologize. oldtrig
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Old 03-12-2011, 08:49 PM   #14
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I'm a dentist and I don't own a boat, don't belong to a country club and drive a '04 camry.
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X-rays are $10-15 each.
I think we found your problem. Stop giving those x-rays away! If you charged just $20 each, you'd have that boat payment made easily.
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Old 03-12-2011, 09:03 PM   #15
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I would rather have a strange dentist with no dental records first take the xray. He could just start drilling away without a plan but.....
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:59 AM   #16
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wow! You guys, and gals, are tough. I'm a dentist and I don't own a boat, don't belong to a country club and drive a '04 camry. Let's talk about x-rays. As masterblaster said one x-ray is 2 mrems. extremely small amount of radiation. Each patient is looked at differently depending on their past history of decay. Some are prone to decay due to diet, oral hygiene, etc. The "average" patient will get 4 x-rays once a year to spot any early signs of decay and "gum disease". Every 3 to 5 you will have a full mouth x-ray which is about 18 x-rays. This will help to spot any infections, and get a better look at any "gum disease". We don't take these x-rays to get rich. X-rays are $10-15 each. Not going to get rich that way. The x-rays are taken to prevent a small cavity from becoming a big cavity, which can happen surprisingly fast. If we wanted to get rich we would let the small cavities become big ones. A simple filling is $100-200. A root canal, and crown is $2,000. If you don't want x-rays done you can't be forced to have them, but they are a small price to pay for prevention.
My original post was not about greed - neither implied nor assumed, but about unnecessary radiation. I acknowledge Rich's response that it is too low to matter, went to the dentist and got my tooth treated to my satisfaction - including the x-ray.

The dangers of excess radiation have been drilled into my mind my entire life, however, and the recent thread on TSA http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...ild-53177.html highlighted the fact that different types of radiation have much different effects. What irritates me is the presumption that each request for an x-ray is by default in my best interest, most of my efforts to question are taken as a challenge, and the typical response is either personal offense (are you questioning me?) or disregard (you don't know what you are talking about).

My questions are not challenging or offensive. The responses have never addressed my concerns. Perhaps they are unanswerable. It is not, however, about the money.
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:39 PM   #17
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Perhaps you need a new dentist and hygenist. Mine explain the specific reason for x-rays each and every time and wait for my answer, yes or no, before proceeding. I've never said no, so I don't know what they'd say or do if the procedure would be difficult or risky without an x-ray beforehand. They do say a few patients refuse full bitewing x-ray sets during periodic check-ups, some for cost and some for radiation concerns.

Tooth gona be OK?
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:45 PM   #18
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I would rather have a strange dentist with no dental records first take the xray. He could just start drilling away without a plan but.....
I had a chuckle over the above.
I get bitewings once a year. I don't worry about the tiny amount of radiation involved.
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Old 03-13-2011, 08:04 PM   #19
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I wouldn't trust what a dentist says about X-rays. They just don't know because it is likely they are just told by the manufacturer what "the truth" is.

Sure, X-rays of teeth are beneficial, but there is no reason to go overboard on them. There is no safe dose of X-rays. One can only try to get as low as reasonably achievable. If a dentist or hospital has an old X-ray machine with scratches, dents, etc, then the dose you get may be unknown.

Maybe I can ask the dentists? Has your machine been calibrated? How do you know how many rems does it give out? Also, film is a notoriously bad X-ray detector. An imaging plate or CCD should allow 1/100th the dose of film.
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:21 PM   #20
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Sure, X-rays of teeth are beneficial, but there is no reason to go overboard on them.
I think the problem is understanding what "overboard" is. Is a full set of bitewings once a year during my annual checkup "overboard" for a 63 yr old? How about if I'm getting some other work done inbetween checkups and the dentist requests an x-ray for guidance before planting the explosives?

I don't think that "overboard" is all that obvious in real world situations.

I'm assuming you must turn down x-ray requests, period. And since I can't remember the last time that an annual checkup x-ray turned up any issue with my teeth, you're probably doing the right thing. But I'm not worried about the level of exposure I'm getting.
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