Radiation, Bananas & Dental X-rays
You may have noticed something new on the walls of our treatment rooms: a Radiation Dosage Chart. This (hopefully) easy to read list is meant to give you a comparison of the amount of radiation you receive from various sources. The unit of measurement is milli Sieverts. Point of reference: Americans typically receive 3 milli Sieverts of background radiation per year.
Notice some of the items listed: sleeping next to someone, chest x-ray, dental x-ray, eating a banana?!? Turns out there is an unofficial comparison of radiation dosage called the “Banana Equivalent Dose” or BED. The humble yellow fruit has a small – micro – amount of radiation because it contains potassium, 0.1 micro Sievert, to be exact.
The purpose of the BED is not to keep you from enjoying your bananas; it hopefully puts into perspective the radiation dosage you get from ordinary living, and, most importantly to our purposes, dental x-rays.
Take note where those dental x-rays fall on that list: not too far below the banana, at .005 milli Sieverts. Of course that’s just one x-ray; the full set of x-rays, which in our office is done around every 5 years, comes in at .06 -.07 milli Sieverts. This is still far less radiation exposure than any of the medical x-rays listed.
Guess if you really, really like bananas, you could eat about 600 of them and then you might want to skip your dental x-rays. But I wouldn’t suggest doing that, because sometimes there are hidden problems with your teeth that we can’t see just by looking in your mouth.