Dental x-rays are an amazing way for dentists to determine whether an oral health concern is present, prevent future oral health concerns from developing and understand the best form of treatment for certain dental problems.
However, there are minor health risks that come along with dental X-rays, which is why a lead apron is most often necessary.
Dental X-rays and lead aprons
A lead apron is a type of protective clothing used during a dental X-ray that ultimately acts as a shield from radiation exposure.
The following is everything you need to know about why lead aprons are necessary and what can happen in the absence of a lead apron during dental X-rays.
What is a lead apron?
As mentioned, a lead apron is a protective clothing item that is used to protect individuals from radiation exposure during dental X-rays. A lead apron is constructed of a thin rubber material on the outside and lead on the inside. While wearing it during dental X-rays, they look like an apron, as it attaches in the back and hangs down toward the knees.
Lead aprons mainly protect internal organs during dental X-rays, which may become exposed to radiation if protective gear were not worn.
Why is a lead apron used during dental X-rays?
As mentioned, a lead apron is used during dental X-rays to protect internal organs, and other essential parts of the body from radiation exposure.
The lead apron works by blocking the radiation before it is able to reach the inner parts of the body, while not hindering the results of dental X-rays. Although dental X-rays are generally only performed in the mouth area, radiation exposure can still occur in parts lower on the body, which is why a lead apron is used during dental X-rays.
What can happen without a lead apron?
Without a lead apron, the body is at risk of radiation exposure. The most concerning risk of radiation exposure are the long-term effects, such as DNA changes to sperm or eggs that can be passed down from the parent to the offspring, although the long-term risks are very small when dealing with minimal levels of radiation exposure.
Perhaps more prevalent, dental X-rays that use radiation can cause nausea in patients when a lead apron is not worn. Also, headaches and a fever may form if dental X-rays are given without the use of a protective lead apron.
When is a lead apron not necessary?
There may be instances when a lead apron is not necessary during dental X-rays, although it is uncommon; there simply may not be a threat of symptoms of radiation exposure.
With that said, be sure to ask your dentist about whether a lead apron is necessary for your dental X-rays, especially if one is not provided when the dentist orders a dental X-ray.