Society News Archive

24 September 2014
Image Gently Campaign Expands to Dentistry: Urges Dental Professionals to Child-Size Radiation Dose

The Image Gently campaign (The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging) has developed online educational and scientific materials to help dental professionals optimize radiation dose used in imaging exams performed on children. Image Gently has also produced downloadable materials to help parents ask more informed questions of their dental providers whenever scans are recommended for their children.

Charles H. Norman III, DDS, president of the American Dental Association (ADA), said: "Dentists use x rays to diagnose disease or damage that isn't visible during an exam. Children may require x rays as an adjunct aid to diagnose dental decay or to assess growth and development for orthodontic treatment. It's important for dentists and parents to have meaningful conversations about children's x rays. I'm pleased that the ADA is part of the Image Gently Alliance, whose goals align with the ALARA or 'as low as reasonably achievable' principle, which the ADA has long advocated."

Imaging can serve an important role in improved dental health. However, children are in general more sensitive to radiation than adults. As such, healthcare providers should reduce radiation dose used in children's imaging and avoid unwarranted imaging. When dental imaging procedures are considered, dental providers are urged to:

  • Select x rays for individual needs, not as a routine. Use x rays only when essential for diagnosis and treatment—based on a review of the patients and their dental history.
  • Use the fastest image receptor available. When film x ray is used, select "E" or "F" speed. Set exposure parameters as low as possible for diagnostic digital imaging.
  • Use cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) only when necessary. CBCT should be restricted in children to cases in which it is essential for diagnosis and treatment planning.
  • Collimate beam to area of interest. For intraoral x rays, collimation should be rectangular to match recording area of detector. For extraoral x rays, including CBCT, restrict beam to the area needed for diagnosis.
  • Always use thyroid shield. The thyroid gland in children is particularly sensitive to radiation. Use of a properly positioned shield significantly reduces the dose to the thyroid.
  • Child-size the exposure time. Less exposure time is needed for children as oral structures are smaller than in adults.

    Healthcare providers are urged to visit the Image Gently website and pledge to do their part to "child-size" the radiation dose used in children's imaging.