One of the most common questions that dentists and their staff get asked is whether dental x-rays are safe and as a profession, dentists are always concerned about limiting the x-ray dose their patients receive and to that end, they have taken various measures.
Dr. Dale Miles, an oral and maxillofacial radiologist in Fountain Hills, Arizona says that faster receptors, thyroid collars on children and leaded aprons for those dentists still using a receptor-like film are just a few examples of such measures. Most dentists are transitioning to digital x-rays and depending on the system, there is a 90% reduction in dose for each image taken. There are products now available for dentists to move towards rectangular collimation and away from the large round cone so often seen in the dental office. By using a dose that is as "low as reasonably achievable," dentists can keep the dose as low as possible, Dr. Miles says.
While the technology is not all that new, the form factor and the way it's being presented to the dental profession has changed quite a bit, explains Dr. Miles. Rectangular collimation had been taught for years as a secondary collimation but it's very difficult to aim and hit the target and thus, this technique got abandoned. The National Council on Radiation Protection, along with the FDA and ADA, have produced guidelines that, in the next 18-24 months, will become more than just guidelines in telling dentists that they need to be using rectangular collimations.
The Tru-Align device, a popular device introduced in 2011, is one that can be retro-fitted to any x-ray tube and the rings have been made into a rectangle. Once the rod has been placed into the patient's mouth, a magnetic contact is made and lights come on to indicate that the tube and the patient are physically linked so "you can't miss," Dr. Miles says, virtually eliminating retakes. Once the procedure is done, the tube is slowly brought back out again.
A smaller unit, called Tru-Image, has since been developed and is a much more pleasingly design. Using a similar format to the Tru-Align device, there is a ring that has the rectangular collimation rings on it to reduce the dose five-fold, and the rod with the ring attached gets placed in the patient's mouth with lights to indicate the unit is engaged. And similar to the Tru-Align device, the Tru-Image device can be retro-fitted onto any dental x-ray machine. A unique aspect of the Tru-Image device that Dr. Miles especially likes is the compressible rubber, enabling it to fit any unit on the market.
Dr. Dale Miles is an oral and maxillofacial radiologist in Fountain Hills, Arizona and is featured on Interactive Imaging TV. Click here,http://learndigital.net . For more information on Dr. Miles and programs about CBCT.