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girl having dental xrays using the alara principle

What is the ALARA Principle?

ALARA means As Low As Reasonably Achievable, regarding radiation exposure. This is a principle that health care professionals strive for, to provide the best care to their patients.

Many aspects of medicine require radiographs, or x-rays as they are most commonly known, to correctly diagnose issues and prepare a treatment plan for dealing with those issues. Radiographs are also sometimes necessary to confirm the successful treatment of a treatment plan.

How Are Radiation Levels Kept Low?

Digital Dental X-Ray Unit

Unlike the early days of dentistry, that relied on traditional film x-rays or radiographs. Most newer dental offices, use digital radiography. Digital radiography has many advantages over conventional film x-rays and results in up to 90% less radiation in some cases. Digital radiographs also allow enhancements to be made to the digital file, such as adjusting the brightness or contract. They enable the dentist to zoom in on the photo, which can help to make it easier to detect dental problems earlier on.

Protective Lead Aprons

boy wearing a lead apron while getting dental xrays

All dental offices provide a protective lead apron for patients who will have dental x-rays taken. Even though the dental x-ray beam is very narrow and very focused, extra precaution is taken to protect the rest of the body. Newer lead aprons also include a portion that protects the thyroid from any radiation.

X-Ray Prescriptions

Dental professionals will only prescribe dental x-rays when they are needed for a checkup exam or if there is an area of concern that needs to be monitored or dealt with immediately. The average person receives more radiation naturally throughout the day than they receive from having checkup digital dental x-rays.

Transfer of X-Rays

digital xray images

Whenever possible, your dental office will try to acquire your most recent dental x-rays from another provider. Often, when a patient changes dental offices, this transfer can be requested, if the previous x-rays are less than one year old. If they are older than a year, there may have been significant enough changes, that warrant new x-rays being taken.

Feel Confident

The next time you are at the dentist office and you need to have x-rays taken, rest assured that the ALARA Principle is in place and that every precaution is being taken to expose you, to as little radiation as possible!


About Dr. Joseph Salvaggio

Dr. Joseph Salvaggio, DDS

Located in Brampton, Ontario Dr. Joseph Salvaggio has been practicing general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry for over 20 years. He enjoys interacting with his patients and helping to restore their oral health for better overall health as well. Meeting new patients, interacting and educating them is one of Dr. Salvaggio’s biggest joys. We encourage you to read our reviews or call us with any dental questions you have. We look forward to speaking with you and meeting you soon.

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