The X-ray: a remarkable journey

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Since its discovery by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895, the X-ray has come a long way.

Yet, in the early days after this breakthrough, and widespread experimentation by scientists, physicians and inventors began to take place, there were many occasions when the X-ray appeared not only unsuitable, but dangerous. Indeed, as well as a series of documented incidents such as severe burns, hair and vision loss, threats of amputation and even cancer, there were also a number of unfortunate fatalities – all of which could have potentially put a stop to the progression of the X-ray.

However, thanks to pioneers such as Dr William Herbert Rollins, who made numerous contributions to the science of radiology – including ideas on how to protect individuals against the dangers of X-ray technology and research on the hazards of X-rays to pregnant women – professionals are now able to practise safely and effectively without causing serious harm to either themselves or patients.

Useful guidelines and regulations are also now available to ensure that restrictions such as dose limits are in place to protect workers and members of the public from the effects of radiation. As it stands, there is no limit on the maximum number of imaging examinations a person can have in a year, though for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is highly recommended that exposure to X-rays is as limited as possible. Indeed, though times have moved on and X-ray exposure is no longer lethal like it was in William Herbert Rollins’ day, there is still evidence that suggests dental radiography during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight.

Still, technology continues to evolve, meaning the risks associated with exposure could potentially reduce even further. Even the switch from film to digital radiography in the last decade has led to greater dose reduction, with a typical dose for a single bitewing shown to be less than 0.01 millisieverts (mSv). A panoramic X-ray has a dose of 0.01 mSv, which is equivalent to just 1.5 days of background radiation. Modern day technology also ensures that radiographs are more accurate and can be viewed immediately after they have been taken, thus eliminating the need for unnecessary exposure to radiation.

By using the latest digital imagers, such as the MyRay Hyperion X9 available from RPA Dental, you rest assured that your patients are exposed to the lowest possible dose rate. Indeed, thanks to the Hyperion X9’s secondary collimator for cephalometric projections, which is integrated into the rotating module, patients’ exposure is minimised. The innovative field of view capabilities also ensure that unnecessary exposure is kept to an absolute minimum.

Altogether, the journey of the X-ray has been remarkable, not least because of the barriers that it has had to overcome. To accurately diagnosis your patients in an efficient, quick and safe way in your practice, upgrade your dental imaging equipment today.