Radiation Hygiene – Are Safety Precautions Put in Place?

Gilliam, Mallory, Dakota Kozel, Jamie McKenna, Alexis Pinelli, and Kristina Okolisan

The purpose of this study is to assess the knowledge of practicing registered dental hygienists in the Metro Detroit area on operator exposure safety and education.  The use of radiographs is an essential aspect of dental hygiene therapy, with the benefits far outweighing the risks; if any such risks actually exist.  In fact, according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and (NCRP), “depending on the radiographic exam and the mathematical models used to estimate said risk, there may none at all.” An eighteen question survey was distributed to registered dental hygienists (n=200) attending the Detroit Dental District Society Continuing Education course in November 2013 after received institutional review board approval (Protocol #1314-21). The collected data show 34% of 145 registered dental hygienists who completed the survey have not received a radiation safety course in the past 11 years, yet 64% of the hygienists are taking greater than 30 radiographic images per week.  Seventy-nine percent of the participants feel that they have been adequately trained on x-ray exposure, but would welcome more continuing education courses on radiation exposure safety. In conclusion, the data has an unexpectedly positive trend in relation to the knowledge of dental hygienists in regards to radiation exposure and safety.  The results from this investigative study were expected to be much lower, although there still is room for improvement in the future. Having obtained these results more continuing education courses in radiology, particularly in radiation exposure and safety should be considered.