Peter Ngai, DMD and Penny L. Phipps, DDS
6 McBride and Son Center | Chesterfield, Missouri 63005

Is the radiation in dental x-rays a problem?

While new digital x-rays use up to 90% less radiation than traditional dental x-rays, even film-based x-rays use a very minimal amount of radiation. 

Every day, you are exposed to radiation from countless sources, including the sun and the Earth itself. Radiation is measured using units called millirems (mrems), and every year, the average American is exposed to about 620 mrem. Your radiation exposure from dentistry accounts for only about 0.2% of that yearly total. 

It helps to have a side-by-side comparison. 

Here are some different medical radiation sources and the amount of mrem that each exposes you to: 

  • Abdominal x-ray – 60 mrem
  • Chest x-ray – 10 mrem
  • Mammogram (2 views) – 72 mrem
  • Chest CT scan - 700 mrem
  • Dental x-ray – 1.5 mrem


Dental x-rays are one of our most important tools. They allow us to see inside your teeth and beneath your gums to spot problems before they start. Often, by the time a problem is visible to the naked eye, the treatment is going to be much more invasive than it would have been if we'd caught the problem earlier. We feel that the minimal radiation exposure is worth it to preserve your oral health.