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News / June 23, 2011

Dental X-ray position statements published

by Guy Hiscott

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has published two new position statements for users of dental X-ray equipment, which amend its Code of Practice for Radiological Protection in Dentistry (RPII – 96/2):
•    The use of lead aprons in dental radiology
•    Personal dosimetry in dental radiology.

The first statement was developed jointly with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and deals with the requirement to wear lead aprons whenever dental X-rays are being taken.

The new advice states that there is no need for staff using X-ray equipment to wear lead aprons once they adhere to safe working practices and that there is no justification for aprons to be routinely worn by patients.

Lead aprons should however be provided to anyone who holds or supports a patient during an X-ray and special consideration should be given to the shielding of the patient’s thyroid.

The publication of this statement should at last bring much needed clarity on this issue to dentists throughout Ireland.

The second statement sets out the RPII’s new requirements on the need for personal dosimetry in dental radiology and has been published following an extensive review of this issue by the RPII’s Regulatory Service.

This review included an examination of the RPII’s dosimetry records over the past 10 years, current practices in other European countries as well as acknowledging the standard of dental X-ray units in Ireland today.

Where previously a personal dosimetry programme was a mandatory licensing requirement, dentists are now required to undertake a risk assessment, in conjunction with their Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA), to determine whether such a programme is required. With the recent appointment of RPAs to all dental practices, dentists now have access to independent expert advice on radiation protection and decisions as to whether personal dosimetry is required can now be taken by the individual practice.

Copies of these statements are available on the RPII’s website:
The Use of Lead Aprons in Dental Radiology
Personal Dosimetry in Dental Radiology