CDA releases updated radiation safety guide

The California Dental Association (CDA) has released an updated Radiation Safety in Dental Practice guide, which includes dental regulations and a template for completing written safety programs.

All sources of radiation must have a copy of radiation regulations and a written radiation safety program.

To ensure compliance with state radiation regulations, the CDA is encouraging dental practices, clinics, and dental educational programs to get the updated guide, which can be downloaded for free at

With assistance from the Department of Public Health (DPH), dental school faculty members helped update the guide.

X-ray technology has changed considerably -- digital systems are more common today and the use of cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) is increasing. However, the regulations themselves have changed little. Quality assurance regulations for x-ray film were adopted in 2012, and the DPH now requires all sources of radiation to have a written radiation safety program. Protective aprons are still required.

The guide reviews the responsibilities of the licensed dentist and x-ray machine owner, as well as the essential principles for reducing patient and occupational exposure to radiation. A table summary of the ADA/FDA radiographic prescription guide that was updated in 2012 is included. The use of portable x-ray units and CBCTs also is addressed, and a section on dental monitor display and image quality considerations has been added.

The radiation safety program template allows the dentist or x-ray machine owner to fill in the necessary information. The template was created with the assistance of the DPH, which also has guidance on its website to assist x-ray machine registrants in developing written radiation safety programs.

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