Advancing the art and science of
oral and maxillofacial radiology in Canada

Radiography and Kids

Dentist showing teeth scan to boy

The following table compares radiation exposure from different sources to the amount received from daily exposure to our surroundings, called background radiation. This table helps us understand the amount of radiation received during a dental x-ray examination compared to daily background radiation exposure.

Although the risk from a single dental x-ray picture is minimal, some studies show an increase in cancer risk, especially in children. Accordingly, dental x-ray technicians implement precautions based on the assumption that low doses of radiation may cause harm.

Even though radiation from one dental x-ray is minimal, it is always important to keep the amount of radiation exposure as low as possible.

Different x-ray pictures are chosen based on the dental care needed. Your dentist will balance the benefits of an x-ray picture and the potential small risks of using it. There are ways to make sure your child is exposed to the least amount of radiation during an x-ray by doing things like:

  • Taking an x-ray based specifically on your child’s needs, not merely as a routine test
  • Using the most up to date equipment and techniques
  • Using thyroid collars and leaded protective aprons
  • Using child-size exposure times
  • Using cone-beam CT only when absolutely necessary

For Patients