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Brian L. Grey DDS
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How safe are dental X-rays?
Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by today’s X-rays. Some of the improvements are new X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost non-existent with the modern dental X-ray machines). In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years. Some states require more frequent checks.

What should I look for when choosing a dentist?
You and your dentist will be long-term oral health care partners; therefore you need to find someone with whom you can be comfortable. To find a suitable dentist to meet your needs, consider asking the following questions as a starting point:
What are the office hours?
Are they convenient to meet your schedule?
Is the office easy to get to from work or home?
Where was the dentist educated and trained?
What’s the dentist’s approach to preventive dentistry?
How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer to help you relax and feel more comfortable during any necessary dental treatment?
What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.)
Is information provided about all fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled? (If you are comparison shopping, ask for estimates on some common procedures such as full-mouth X-rays, oral exam and cleaning, and filling a cavity.)
Does the dentist participate in your dental health plan?
What is the dentist’s office policy on missed appointments?

I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist yet I recognize the importance of seeing the dentist to maintain good oral health. What should I do?
If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9 percent and 15 percent of Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. In fact, if your dentist doesn’t take your fear seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.
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