In an effort to decrease radiation exposure to patients, the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs collaborated with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to update the ADA’s recommendations for dental X-ray examinations. The recommendations were released recently.
The ADA’s “Dental Radiograph Examinations: Recommendations for Patient Selection and Limiting Radiation Exposure” are intended to be used in conjunction with dentists’ professional judgment to determine whether and when dental X-rays are needed. Dental X-rays help dentists evaluate and diagnose oral diseases and conditions, but the ADA recommends that dentists weigh the benefits of taking dental X-rays against the possible risk of exposing patients to the radiation from X-rays, the effects of which can accumulate from multiple sources over time.
“As doctors of oral health, dentists are in the best position to make decisions on whether to prescribe dental X-rays after an oral examination and with consideration of the patient’s health history. Prescribing dental X-rays should be an individualized process,” said ADA President Robert A. Faiella, D.M.D., M.M.Sc. Since 1989, the ADA has recommended the ALARA principle in relation to dental X-rays—that radiation exposure to patients is “as low as reasonably achievable.”
A downloadable copy of the recommendations can be obtained here.
- Removing a stronger recommendation for thyroid collar use for children, women of childbearing age and pregnant women. The strength of the recommendation is now the same for all patients.
- A new section that was not in the 2004 document, which expands upon the 2006 CSA report, “The Use of Dental Radiographs: Update and Recommendations.”
- New topics that were not covered in the 2006 CSA report such as receptor selection, handheld X-ray units, technique charts and radiation risk communication.
- Changing the recommendation for shielding to be consistent with the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements.
All dentists should review the updated recommenations and, of course, utilize their best professional judgment for individualized care for their own patients.