Facts: Radiation in Dental Medicine
Diagnostic radiology is an essential part of present day dental care medicine. While there are benefits to the patient being X-rayed, precautions must be taken to reduce the possible harmful effects of ionizing radiation to the operator.
During a typical dental radiological examination, the radiation dose received by an operator is very low. However, in those cases where the operator is exposed to measurable doses of radiation, the body's defence mechanisms act upon exposed cells in an attempt to repair any damage. While an individual's immune system, age, or sex may dictate the speed and effectiveness of the body's ability to repair cells, exposure to ionizing radiation, even at low doses, may cause irreversible damage. Therefore, the effect of even low levels of ionizing radiation may accumulate and could represent a potential health hazard.
If you would like to learn more about radiation effects on the human body or to review recommended safety procedures, you can visit the following Web sites:
- Title: Understanding Radiation
- Author: Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
- Web site link: CNSC - Understanding Radiation
- Title: Safety Code 30 Radiation Protection in Dentistry
- Author: Radiation Protection Bureau
- Web site link: Radiation Protection - Safety Code 30
Safeguarding Your Health
Dental workers can minimize exposure risks by following documented safety procedures and using a dosimeter. Dosimeters are small devices that monitor an individual's exposure to X-rays. Dosimeters are worn for a specified period of time and then returned for processing and analysis. An exposure report is generated and identifies any radiation exposure incurred during the wearing period.
There are several reasons why a dental worker should wear a dosimeter:
- To confirm that the radiation protection program is satisfactory and that safety procedures are being followed. When the exposure report indicates that the person has not received a measurable dose this is generally the confirmation of a safe radiation environment.
- To detect faulty equipment and gaps in safety practices. Radiation exposure data can indicate problems with X-ray equipment, operational procedures, and employee workload.
- To verify that dose limits are not exceeded. Each province determines the maximum level of radiation exposure per individual. Exposure reports provide a record that helps ensure individuals do not exceed these limits.
- To maintain a lifelong dose history. Individuals have access to a personalized dose record which indicates their accumulated radiation exposure over a career.
- To monitor pregnant workers. There are greater exposure risks during pregnancy when fetal cells are developing and multiplying. Dosimeters can be used as a dose management tool to monitor and minimize a pregnant worker's exposure to radiation.
The National Dosimetry Services - A Measure of Safety
The National Dosimetry Services (NDS) is Canada's leading dosimetry provider. NDS offers a full-line of dosimetry products and services that are tailored for the specific monitoring needs of the dental market. NDS is committed to providing accurate, high quality and reliable radiation exposure assessments; timely emergency response protection; and outstanding customer service.
If you would like to learn more about the products and services offered by NDS, please call our toll- free customer service line at: 1-800-261-6689 or visit us on the Web at: National Dosimetry Services.
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