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X-rays are a highly useful diagnostic tool used in dentistry to help view otherwise invisible damage. However, there are often concerns regarding the safety of X-rays and whether or not the cost is worth the benefit. We’re here today to shed some light on the mystery.
X-rays were so named because the person who discovered them, Wilhelm Röntgen, did not have a good name for them and ended up calling them “X” for some unknown factor. Ironically enough, the name has since stuck around until the modern day. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, or EMR. Although the name sounds intimidating, EMR is all around us. In fact, EMR rays are travelling through you at this very moment. Visible light, for example, is an example of EMR that we encounter in our everyday lives.
EMR is not inherently dangerous, as it’s simply a name that can refer to a broad spectrum of energy rays. These rays differ from each other in terms of energy, wavelength, amplitude, and a host of other various factors. For example, visible light is any EMR that has a wavelength between 380 to 700 nanometers. Where do X-rays fit into all of this? The X-ray range is found around 0.01 to 10 nanometers, a good deal smaller than that of visible light. Smaller wavelengths also mean that the ray has more energy which gives it different properties. This comes especially in handy with X-rays, as their shorter wavelength is why they’re so useful in diagnostic imaging.
Shorter wavelengths travel with greater energy and are better able to penetrate skin. Ultraviolet light, for example, is yet another example of EMR that features waves with shorter wavelengths travelling at a high energy level. As you probably know, ultraviolet radiation is the reason why being out in the sun can cause sun burns. X-rays, like the kind you might receive from a routine dental procedure, are administered at very low levels, no more than background radiation that you receive everyday from the environment.
It’s important to remember that the reason why X-rays are used in the first place is because the benefit has been determined to outweigh the potential risks. X-rays have been a routine dental procedure for a long time and has greatly assisted diagnoses and treatments. If you have any further questions concerning X-rays or their safety, Centennial Smiles is more than happy to help! Reach us at (587) 317‑7959 today!