Update on Dental Radiation Shielding

Update on Dental Radiation Shielding

In September 2023, the Journal of the American Dental Association included an article, “Patient shielding during dentomaxillofacial radiography” that included research and guidelines with recommendations from the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology to discontinue shielding in dental radiography based on their research. Earlier this month, the American Dental Association updated its own recommendation language on dental imaging safety with a similar article, “Optimizing radiation safety in dentistry.”

These are big recommendations, but don’t change your practices quite yet. The article and ADA language both point practitioners back to state laws and rules.  Indiana still requires protection of “five tenths (0.5) mm lead equivalent” protection during radiographic exposure according to 410 IAC 5-6.118(t) of Indiana Administrative Code. Here are some key takeaways and things to keep in mind:

  • Recommendations from reputable sources have changed and are recommending no shielding with proper technique and equipment for dental radiography.
  • Research is continuing and will still be ongoing.
  • Guidelines from ADA, state health departments, school curriculum will all need to undergo review.
  • Indiana State rules still require shielding.
  • Patient expectations and education take time to change.
Indiana Rules  410 IAC 5-6.118 (t):

(t) Except for patients who cannot be moved out of the room, only the staff and ancillary personnel required for the medical procedure or training shall be in the room during the radiographic exposure. In addition to the patient being examined, others will be protected in the following manner:

  1. All individuals shall be positioned such that no part of the body will be struck by the useful beam unless protected by five tenths (0.5) mm lead equivalent.
  2. Staff and ancillary personnel shall be protected from direct scattered radiation by protective aprons or whole body protective barriers of not less than twenty-five hundredths (0.25) mm lead equivalent.
  3. Patients who cannot be removed from the room shall be protected from direct scattered radiation by whole body protective barriers of twenty-five hundredths (0.25) mm lead equivalent or shall be positioned so that portion of the body nearest to the tube head is at least two (2) meters from both the tube head and the nearest edge of the image receptor


Click here to read the full Indiana Administrative Code on radiological health.


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