Dentists use "selection criteria," by examining their patients to determine their need for an x-ray and for what procedures they will be useful. Dr. Dale Miles, oral and maxillofacial radiologist in Fountain Hills, Arizona, says there are several ways dentists can use equipment to reduce x-ray exposure on their patients.
In the United States and Canada, it is mandatory for a thyroid collar to be used on all children. For adults, a leaded apron is used but if the dental office has gone digital, that is no longer needed, according to Dr. Miles.
More recently, new equipment has come into the marketplace called Tru-Align. Tru-Align is a rectangular collimator that fits onto an existing x-ray tube and takes the size of the x-ray beam into a rectangle from a much larger cylinder, says Dr. Miles.
All of these measures can be taken in a dental office to reduce a patient's exposure and make x-rays safe. Dr. Miles says they all constitute the criteria for a "safe x-ray practice," and a dental practice can certify their practice that way.
On Dr. Miles's website, www.learndigital.net, a patient or dentist can look at some comparison data on exposure, along with articles on just how safe x-rays are and what constitutes a safe x-ray practice.