What's Going on with Radiation Protection Laws
By Gracie Hogue, BM
There has been some buzz in the dental field about laws changing that concern x-ray and radiation protection for patients. We’ve recently received questions and comments from clients saying that they’ve heard that lead aprons are soon going to be obsolete, and they are wondering if this is or isn’t true.
The answer is based on the state in which your practice is located. For instance, in Tennessee, lead aprons and thyroid collars during radiological procedures are still required by law. According to the Tennessee Department of Health: “All patients should be properly shielded with a lead apron and thyroid collar when radiographs are taken. If radiographs are not indicated or refused by the patient, the reason should be recorded on the patient’s record.” To read more, click here: www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/program-areas/oral-health/SOP-Manual.pdf
Insofar as how these laws may be under consideration on the national level, it is true that there has been talk about putting the use of gonadal protection out of use. In August of 2023, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology published an article that stated, “Considering the absence of radiation-induced heritable effects in humans and the negligible dose to the gonads and fetus from dentomaxillofacial imaging, the committee recommends discontinuing shielding of the gonads, pelvic structures, and fetuses during all dentomaxillofacial radiographic imaging procedures. On the basis of radiation doses from contemporaneous maxillofacial imaging, the committee considered that the risks from thyroid cancer are negligible and recommends that thyroid shielding not be used during intraoral, panoramic, cephalometric, and cone-beam computed tomographic imaging.” What this means is that they have not found that the levels of radiology used in dental offices cause genetic mutations or diseases, and the risk of thyroid cancer is still extremely low.
We at Modern Practice Solutions will keep our clientele informed about these laws and the potential updates that occur in this area of compliance.