Responsible Use of Dental X-Rays in Children

Children need smaller portions; this is true when it comes to eating meals, and when addressing topics such as imaging. It is under this premise that the profession of dentistry is joining the Image Gently campaign to raise awareness about special considerations needed for pediatric dental radiology, and to promote radiation safety. Dr. William C. Scarfe, professor and director of radiology and imaging science in the department of surgical and hospital dentistry at University of Louisville (U of L) School of Dentistry, along with an international team of dental and medical radiologists and dental specialists, discuss the implications of the campaign in an article published in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology. Radiation protection can be a safety issue. Radiation-associated risk to children is often greater than for adults due to their longer life expectancy for the effects of radiation exposure to manifest and increased radiosensitivity of developing organs and tissues, Dr. Scarfe said. “This campaign is designed to change practice by increasing awareness of opportunities to improve radiation protection when imaging children in dental practices,” Dr. Scarfe said. “Six practical steps underline the principle that one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to using radiography during pediatric dental procedures. When we image children, we should image gently—more is often not better.”

The 6-step plan is this: (1) select x-rays for a patient’s individual needs, not as routine; (2) use the fastest image receptor possible (E- or F-speed film or digital sensors); (3) aim the x-ray beam to expose only the area of interest; (4) use thyroid collars; (5) child-size the exposure; and (6) use CBCT only when necessary.

(Source: U of L; ScienceDaily, September 18, 2014)

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