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Health and Safety

Radiation Safety

Are you concerned about the recent news on dental X-Rays? We are too! That’s why we want you to know the facts about the X-Rays taken in our office. At the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, we use digital X-ray to minimize your exposure.

Recently, there have been a number of media reports that have discussed a study that associates frequent dental X-Rays to an increased risk of developing a non-cancerous meningioma brain tumor. Here is some information to help ease any concerns you may have:

  1. The study acknowledges that some of the subjects received dental X-Rays decades ago when radiation exposure was greater because of the use of old X-ray technology and slower speed film. Our office has used (for many years) digital X-Rays that have 90% less radiation than traditional X-Rays. Because of the advent of digital X-Rays and improved speed of X-Ray film, the amount of radiation that dental patients are exposed to today is significantly lower.
  2. Also, the results of this study rely on the individuals’ memories of having dental X-Rays taken years earlier, not a review of the patients’ dental or medical records. Results of studies that use this type of design method can be unreliable.
  3. Most importantly, we want to ensure that radiation exposure is as low as reasonably achievable. As dentists, we must balance the small risk of dental X-Rays against the benefits of them. They are valuable because many oral diseases cannot be detected on the basis of a visual and physical examination alone. Such radiographs provide important diagnostic information about a patient’s oral health such as early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections, and even some types of tumors.
  4. How often dental X-Rays should be taken depends on the patient’s oral health condition, age, risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease that the patient may be experiencing.

WHAT IS A REASONABLY “SAFE” LEVEL OF RADIATION?

It is important to note that you are going to receive a certain amount of radiation just by going through your normal daily activities.  For example, you receive background radiation from concrete buildings, roads, and of course the sun. To put things in perspective, just standing around outside for several minutes, you receive more than three bitewing x-rays worth of radiation every day. Each time you fly from coast to coast on an airplane you receive radiation amounts equivalent to eight dental bitewing x-rays.

Even though inevitable, radiation is not all bad. In fact, several radiologists have published papers indicating low level doses of radiation actually reduce cancer risks!

Radiation is measured in millirems. The annual maximum occupational exposure for U.S. workers has been set at 5,000 millirems. The amount of exposures to radiation during typical medical and dental x-ray examinations are listed below:

So you would have to take 20,000 bitewing x-rays to equal the radiation in one mammogram!  We would have to take almost 100,000 bitewing x-rays to reach your maximum safe yearly dose!

When you weigh these facts against the serious, progressive disease processes such as cavities, gum disease, abscesses, and cancer that can go undetected without x-rays, it seems like a pretty fair, and extremely safe, trade off.

There is no question that having your dental x-rays taken regularly is well worth it!  We encourage you to talk to us if you have lingering questions about dental x-rays or your dental treatment.

Dental Sterilization and Infection Control

Comfort comes in many forms. Our sanitary standards create a worry-free environment that extends comfort even after your visit.

Sterilization and the prevention of illness should be a concern of all dental offices. One of the prime sources of contamination can be water. Our filtering, self-contained water system creates 99.9% pure water for use in all treatment situations.

In addition to our office using distilled water, the water purification system itself is purified every week. The system is high pressure air-dried, and remains dry for 48 hours to ensure clean environment within the system.

All instruments connected to the water system that touch patients are heat-sterilized after each patient’s use in a process called autoclaving. Items that are not heat-sterilized are disposed of and a new one is used for each patient.

Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry strictly meets or exceeds the safety and sterilization guidelines recommended by the American Dental Association, Georgia Dental Board and OSHA. We constantly upgrade our infection control techniques by attending frequent courses and holding regular staff meetings so as to insure your safety and peace of mind. Some of the techniques we employ include:

  • Wearing gloves, masks, and protective eyewear during each patient examination and treatment
  • Sterilizing all instruments placed intra-orally in an autoclave or ultrasonic cleaner for germ free use
  • Cleaning and sanitizing each exam room fixture regularly to eliminate bacteria and its development
  • Consistently using a contracted sterilization monitoring service to ensure the effectiveness of equipment
  • Utilizing safety techniques to prevent cross-contamination by properly disposing of all products that are unable to be sterilized
  • Sterilization of all dental hand-pieces
  • Covering patient chairs, x-ray units, and light handles with disposable plastic wraps
  • Using filtered water supplied to dental hand-pieces and air/water syringes