With the onset of the medical use of radiation in the late nineteenth
century, x-ray machines quickly became commonplace fixtures in medical
facilities. The potentially harmful effects of radiation overexposure were not
fully understood at the time, and as a result many physicians and patients were
severely injured by repeated or prolonged exposures to x-rays.
As evidence of the harmful effects of unsafe radiation use mounted,
government agencies instituted regulations to protect both the patients and
operators of x-ray machines. Continued research and development in radiological
applications have resulted in improved x-ray machine designs which have enabled
a continued reduction of the radiation output of these machines. Today's
state-of-the-art medical imaging devices, when combined with safe operating
procedures, greatly reduce the exposures of staff and patients to radiation.
The regulations regarding the use of medical x-rays have also evolved since
their inception. These regulations impose restrictions on the design of x-ray
machines and facilities, and impose control measures to ensure that radiation is
used in a safe manner. Personnel who operate medical x-ray devices should receive
annual continuing education in radiation safety. This presentation is designed to
provide dental personnel with sufficient information about radiation safety to
address this issue.