Digital X-ray Radiation Exposure Fact Sheet

Published on May 29, 2014 by

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  • A dental x-ray is a useful diagnostic tool used to help detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam.
  • Radiation exposure is measured in mREM, the adverage person in the US is exposed to about 360mREM per year just from naturally occuring background sources. Background radiation comes from outer space, the earth, natural materials and even other people.
  • 5,000mREM is the federal total effective, whole body, yearly occupational dose limit.
  • The average digital dental x-rays delievers about 0.3mREM. Therefore, a full mouth set of x-rays delievers about 5.4mREM. Depending on you oral health, full mouth set of x-rays are taken every five to seven years.
  • A panoramic x-rays delivers about 2mREM.


  • Flying cross country exposes a person to about 3-5mREM.
  • Cooking with natural gas exsposures us to an additional 10mREM per year.
  • Living in a brick building adds an additional 10mREM per year compared to a wooden structure.
  • Simply sleeping next to another person exsoses you to an extra 2mREM per year.
  • To equal the amount of radiation the average citizen picks up from naturally occuring background sources each year, the dentist would have to take 950 digital x-rays.

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