Usually, I take x-rays once a year with my dentist. Is this harmful? Am I at risk of getting cancer?

Sometimes, I have to see a dental specialist, such as an periodontist, and the assistant to the periodontist would proceed to take "full-mouth x-rays", so that instead of taking an x-ray from each side of the jaw, they take about 15-18 x-rays from many different angles of my jaw. I feel it's dangerous / gratuitous -- and that those excessive amount of x-rays is just used to train the assistant, and that it's unnecessary for the periodontist to make an evaluation of my teeth and gums.

Are "full-mouth x-rays" harmful?


  • They make more money that way. Panorama radiographs of the whole mouth in one shot have been available for decades. Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The American Dental Association states that the overall exposure to all sources of radiation per year is estimated to be in the USA 6.2 mSv. And from an OPG which is probably similar to what you're having as 0.01 mSv.

If you're a child, a young woman, or pregnant, you should ask for neck-shielding with a lead collar, or a lead apron to protect your thyroid and fetus.

As for do you need yearly x-rays, then I suggest you discuss with your dentist. If you don't need fillings due to a lack of dental caries, you may get away with less frequent x-rays. And with the newer digital x-ray systems, there's a lower dose again.

exposure table


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