Radiation in dentistry

Radiology underpins the diagnosis of oral pathologies. Treatments are no longer carried out without imaging because X-rays help in so many ways. Thus, X-rays are useful in the following situations:

  • Detection of caries – caries is demineralization and loss of substance from the teeth, which occurs when microorganisms are present in increased numbers, overcome local defence mechanisms and exert their pathogenic potential.

Caries can be easily identified when it is found on surfaces such as the occlusal or buccal surfaces, but if it is found interdentally, it is quite difficult to detect. Often, interdental caries evolves slowly, without the patient suspecting anything. In advanced stages, interdental caries destroys the enamel and causes bleeding gums. By radiological examination, interdental caries is easily detected even in the early stages.

  • Detection of apical pathology – the roots of teeth can frequently be affected by carious pathology that progresses to the pulp chamber and seeds the root, usually in a relatively short time.

If bone lysis occurs, the changes are also visible radiologically and guide the diagnostic argument.

Clinically, the manifestations may be common to several pathologies, but imaging is indispensable for a correct diagnosis.

  • Bone level – in order to carry out prosthetic treatments and insert implants, it is essential to know the amount of bone available.

This will enable us to decide which treatments can be carried out. Often, the treatments that the doctor wants to perform cannot be carried out because local conditions do not allow it.

That is why a radiological assessment is absolutely necessary.

  • Appearance of bone structures and soft parts – often, pathologies affecting the facial mass may have a rather silent and not at all representative evolution to be diagnosed. Imaging is extremely useful in these cases. Particularly when tumor formations are involved, infiltrating more than one type of tissue, three-dimensional radiological examinations help to identify precisely where they have spread to.

The radiation emitted by the complementary examinations performed for dental treatments is much lower than it used to be in the past. Year on year, attempts are made to reduce the amount of radiation.

But radiation is everywhere. By the very fact that we carry out our dental activities, we emit radiation, because of the radioactive material that is contained inside the body.

The dose of radiation that can become harmful to the human body is 100,000 micro sieverts while the lethal dose is considered to be 10000000 micro sieverts. The radiation dose stored by taking a panoramic X-ray in the dentist’s surgery is about 6-7 micro sieverts, less than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, which is equivalent to 40 micro sieverts.

Therefore, the benefit that radiology brings to the dental field and to the medical field in general, through the progress that is being made with these methods, is considered to be zero compared to the benefits.

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