Dental misconceptions

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Samantha Bodnar
  • 86th Dental Squadron
Dental visits can be a source of anxiety for many people which are often due to common misconceptions.  One concern is the radiation exposure from dental X-rays. 

X-rays are an essential part of patient care because they allow providers the opportunity to assess areas hidden from plain sight.  Every time an X-ray is exposed, the patient wears a lead vest and the technician or doctor leaves the room.

This action could be a bit concerning and make a patient wonder, "how much radiation am I really receiving?" According to the authors of "Oral Radiology: Principles and Interpretation", one set of annual x-rays is equivalent to a little more than half a day of walking in the sun.  This small amount of radiation is miniscule compared to having am arm or leg x-rayed.

Pregnant women may tend to avoid the dentist due to fear of radiation exposure to their child; however pregnancy is an especially important time to visit the dentist. During pregnancy, a woman experiences several physiological changes that may increase her risk of dental problems.

As of August 2013, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published that dental x-rays can be safely taken throughout the entire pregnancy with the use of a lead apron. They will also only be taken if the dentist deems they are necessary for the patient. 

Another popular concern is the use of amalgam (silver) fillings. Some may fear that these treatments could be hazardous to their health. 

Patients do not need to avoid fillings. Dentists trust and recommend amalgam fillings because their durability, wear resistance and strength exceed that of other materials.  Some people wonder if amalgam fillings need to be replaced due the mercury content-- --The American Dental Association says they do not.

Amalgam is made up of several different materials combined together chemically. Mercury is one of these materials; however, it is not dangerous to a person's health because it is combined with other materials. Mercury is only hazardous when it isfree mercury.  Rest assured that the amalgam filling your dentist recommended is the best thing for your teeth in the long run.

Dental x-rays and amalgam fillings are not as scary as they may seem. Dental x-rays emit a very low and safe amount of radiation. X-rays help dentists by allowing to spot cavities in areas between teeth that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

For more information on this topic or if you have any questions, please contact the 86th Dental Squadron at DSN 479-2210 or 06371-46-2210.