6447-B S. East St. Indianapolis, IN 46227 (317) 783-3390

The Risk (very very low risk) of Radiation Exposure with Dental X-rays

While patient concern for radiation exposure with dental x-rays has lessened, every once in a while we have a patient with a heightened fear of radiation exposure.  And with that comes the question, "Am I going to be glowing by the time you're done?".  So, we thought it might be helpful to compare the amount of radiation exposure in dental x-rays to some every day radiation exposure that people are likely not even aware of.

But first, we must know how radiation is measured.  Because different parts of the body have a different level of sensitivity to radiation due to tissue make-up, the radiation is measured in terms of total body exposure or 'effective dose'.  The scientific units of measurement for an effective dose of radiation are the micosievert (µSv) and the millisievert (mSv).

Here at Forest Creek Family Dental Care, we take a set of 4 Bitewing x-rays 1 time per year for the average adult patient.  According to the ADA, the amount of radiation in a set of 4 Bitewing x-rays is only 5 µSv or .005 mSv.

Ok... enough of all of that science talk... let's compare some real life radiation exposure scenarios.

Take a look at the Radiation Dosage Chart below which starts with the lowest amount of radiation... -1 microsievert in a banana!!

**µSv=Microsievert          mSv=Millisievert**

Radiation Dosage Chart


Amount of Radiation

Eating a banana


Natural radiation in the human body


Set of dental x-rays (4 bitewings)


Average daily background dose received by humans


Flight from New York to LA


Smoking 1 ½ pack of cigarettes in a day


Yearly dose from food



1,000 µSv=1.0mSv

Spinal X-ray

1.5 mSv


3 mSv

CT Scan

10 mSv

Annual dose at which risk of cancer increases



As you can see, dental x-rays are safer than that long flight you will be taking on your next vacation, the cigarettes you may or may not smoke and the yearly dose of food you take in.  Not to mention the health benefits received by catching that dental decay early!!

   Sources: American Dental Association and dentalplanet.com