X-Ray Safety Guidelines Get Updated in Second Edition

Dentistry Today


The second edition of Guidance Notes for Dental Practitioners on the Safe Use of X-Ray Equipment sets standards of good practice for the safe use of X-ray equipment in dental practice and is endorsed by the College of General Dentistry (CGDent).

The guidance also is freely available online from the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) (FGDP(UK)), with hard copies available as well.

Presenting definitive, detailed, and comprehensive recommendations in a logically ordered and intelligible format, FGDP(UK) said, the second edition is designed as a reference for the whole primary care dental team.

The guidance covers administrative and practical matters, including developments in dental X-ray equipment, imaging technology, and legislation since the first edition, which was published in 2001 by the National Radiological Protection Board, now part of Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical, and Environmental Hazards.

Also, the guidance was produced by a working party led by Public Health England and consisting of regulatory bodies, professional bodies representing dentistry and radiation protection, consultant dental radiologists, and general dental practitioners. It includes existing guidance on dental CBCT, handheld dental X-ray equipment, and digital imaging systems, as well as: updated guidance on:

  • Radiation controlled areas
  • The training of referrers, practitioners, and operators with respect to dental CBCT
  • Acceptance, commissioning, and routine radiation safety tests for all dental X-ray equipment and the recommended intervals (extended to every three years for most dental CBCT equipment) between routine tests
  • A simplified system for image quality rating and analysis
  • A simplified approach to quality assurance of digital imaging systems and viewing screens

Plus, there is new guidance with respect to the requirements:

  • For dental practices to register with the HSE or HSENI
  • To investigate the circumstances when contingency plans are activated and on the need to rehears contingency plans
  • To monitor radiation levels at the boundaries of controlled areas
  • To assess doses to persons who need to enter controlled areas
  • For employers to cooperate when employees work with dental X-ray equipment on another employer’s premises, including arrangements for the formal handover of responsibility
  • Regarding what should be expected of service engineers who undertake the installation, testing, and servicing of dental X-ray equipment
  • When disposing of or selling-on X-ray equipment
  • For record retention

The second edition additionally includes detailed practical guidance on how optimize patient dose as well as template documents, including a radiation risk assessment and the employer’s procedures relevant to dentistry.

The guidance supports compliance with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17) and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017 (IRMER17), but it does not impose any requirements on employers beyond those required by legislation.

“The core function of the FGDP is to raise the standards of care delivered to patients through education of the dental profession and the provision of evidence-based guidance, and we have been delighted to work with Public Health England to publish a second edition of the Guidance Notes for Dental Practitioners on the Safe Use of X-Ray Equipment,” said Ian Mills, dean of FGDP(UK) and trustee of the College of General Dentistry.

“For almost two decades, this has been an important text in setting standards for the safe use of X-ray equipment in dental practices, and this updated edition will undoubtedly continue to be a key reference document for the whole primary care dental team,” said Mills.

UK-based Associate, Affiliate, and Full Members of FGDP(UK), FGDP(UK) Fellows, and Joint Members of FGDP(UK) and FDS RCS End will receive a complimentary printed copy of the guidance in the mail by the end of October 2020. Complimentary printed copies are available to overseas members of these categories by emailing fgdp@fgdp.org.uk.

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