Chicago (Sept. 24, 2014) — The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) is proud to announce its support and involvement as a member of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, the Image Gently Alliance. Today, the Alliance is expanding its scope to the oral health care community with its next campaign push, Image Gently in Dentistry. As a member of this Alliance, the ADHA is pleased to message and promote the importance of proper radiation dosage to children to the more than 185,000 licensed dental hygienists in the United States that the organization serves as a voice for.
“Dental hygienists are an integral part of the dental team; examining children, developing plans of care, consulting with parents or caregivers, and working with other oral health professionals to ensure that proper diagnosis and treatment is provided to children,” said ADHA President Kelli Swanson Jaecks, MA, RDH. “It’s critical for both dental hygienists — the oral health professionals responsible for creating and executing plans of prevention and care — and dental practitioners to discuss with parents the importance of X-rays and proper dosing of radiation at the lowest possible level.”
Imaging can serve an important role in improved dental health. However, children are, in general, more sensitive to radiation than adults. As such, health care 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 patient 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 CT (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 cone-beam CT, restrict beam to the area needed for diagnosis.
• Always use a 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 their oral structures are smaller than those in adults.
The Image Gently campaign 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. All of these materials, newsletters and other valuable information can be found at www.imagegently.org.
“We are incredibly pleased that the major dental societies have opted to take part in Image Gently and take steps to ensure that the care they provide is as safe as possible,” said Marilyn Goske, MD, co-chair of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging. “We encourage all dental professionals to take advantage of the materials on the Image Gently website and factor them into their clinical decision making.”
Image Gently alliance members in dentistry include the American Dental Association; American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology; American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; American Association of Endodontists; American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology; American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; American Academy of Periodontology; American Dental Education Association; American Dental Hygienists’ Association; Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology; and the European Academy of DentoMaxilloFacial Radiology.