Radiation Exposure Comparison
3 Jan 2007
How do dental X-rays compare to other sources of radiation?
We are exposed to radiation every day from various sources, such as frequent airplane travel and high altitudes, minerals in the soil, and appliances in our homes (like smoke detectors and television screens).
Estimated Exposure (mSV*)
Dental radiographs x
Bitewings (4 films) = 0.038
Full-mouth series (about 19 films) = 0.150
Medical radiographs x
Lower GI series = 4.060
Upper GI series = 2.440
Chest = 0.080
Average radiation from outer space In Denver, CO (per year) = 0.510
Average radiation in the U.S. from Natural sources (per year) = 3.000
Source: Adapted from Frederiksen NL. X-Rays: What is the Risk? Texas Dental Journal. 1995;112(2):68-72.
*A millisievert (mSV) is a unit of measure that allows for some comparison between radiation sources that expose the entire body (such as natural background radiation) and those that only expose a portion of the body (such as radiographs).