3 Key Principles to Stay Safe in Your Practice [Radiation Safety]

Dental radiography procedures are an essential part of dentistry. Although the effective dose from such procedures is low, the frequency of examinations is high enough to warrant monitoring of the doses delivered (EPA Radiation Standard 6, Part 3 – Dentistry). The risk for occupationally exposed workers directly correlates to the amount of ionising radiation they are exposed to and should not exceed 20mSv per year.


Taking precautions and understanding the safety principles relating to the x-ray equipment in your practice is the best defence against harmful exposure to ionising radiation.



PRINCIPLE 1: Keep your distance


Primary Radiation (aka primary beam) VS. Secondary Radiation (aka scatter)

Primary radiation refers to the x-ray beam that is emitted from the tubehead of the device and used for diagnostic imaging. Secondary, or “scatter” radiation, is produced when the primary beam interacts with matter i.e., the soft tissue of the patient. It has a lower energy than the primary beam and “scatters” perpendicularly from it.


The 2-Meter Rule

If no protective barrier is present, it is imperative that the operator, and all personnel within the practice keep a minimum distance of 2m from the tubehead (primary radiation source) and the patient (scatter radiation source), while taking an x-ray.


Dentist takes a panoramic x-ray of a patient with an OPG machine
The main risk when taking an x-ray comes from scatter radiation.

PRINCIPLE 2: Communication


Communication is a key factor for ensuring radiation safety. Before taking an x-ray, confirm the safety of all personnel, by communicating with everyone in a close proximity, that you are taking an x-ray, and they must stay a safe distance away (i.e. 2m). If you are concerned about your safety, don't hesitate to speak up.



Four team members of a dental practice
Working with or around radiographic equipment? Don't hesitate to speak up if you are concerned about your safety.

PRINCIPLE 3: Equipment Maintenance


Over time, x-ray equipment can deteriorate, or become damaged, causing inconsistencies in radiation output, higher leakage levels, or other fluctuations that can be dangerous.

Always keep your equipment in peak operating condition. This is accomplished by adhering to the Quality Assurance program specified by the manufacturer, and keeping valid compliance certification.


Intraoral x-ray unit in dental practice with laptop and compliance testing equipment
Keeping your compliance certification up to date is crucial for ensuring your x-ray units are still functioning well.

If you have questions regarding radiation safety, or would like to book your radiographic equipment in for compliance testing, please reach out to our team at Gamma Tech.