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Radiology/cat scan 3d dental xrays on a child


Hi.  Are the new 3d cat scan xrays safe for children.  As far as radiation exposure how many of the old panoramic xrays would it take to egual one of the new cat scan ones?  Thx

Hi, Cathy.

It sounds like you're considering a dental CT vs. a panoramic dental x-ray, correct? "Safe" is a relative term. CAT scans use ionizing radiation. Cellular damage caused by ionizing radiation (x-rays) is permanent and cumulative. It is especially important to protect children from unnecessary radiation exposure, if at all possible.

According to the chart on, the radiation dose that a patient receives from a CT scan of the brain without contrast is equivalent to about 8 months of exposure to normal background radiation. The exposure from a dental x-ray is equivalent to 1 DAY of normal background radiation.

These are only estimates, but the difference in exposure is obvious. I would advise that you opt for a panoramic x-ray if your doctor can get the same information from either exam. If your doctor insists on having a CT scan, be sure you understand the benefits of doing so before exposing your child to unnecessary radiation.

And be sure the CT tech shields your child with a lead apron ALL THE WAY AROUND his/her body (i.e. the patient lies on top of the apron, which is then wrapped around the front of patient's body). In CT, the x-rays go around the body. I've seen some lazy techs simply cover the top of the patient, leaving the entire back of the patient exposed to scatter radiation.

Hope this helps,


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Delia White


I am not qualified to interpret diagnostic imaging or to diagnose disease. Please consult a physician for that information. I am the photographer. I can tell you what to expect during most MRI, CT and X-ray procedures.


I now have more than 30 years experience in diagnostic imaging. My specialty is MRI. I am also very familiar with CT and the way we used to take x-rays (everything's digital now)!

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Radiologic Technology.

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