Lead Apron Or Not?

Lead Apron for Dental Patients

Is a Lead Apron even necessary for your dental patients?

It’s time we ask the question – is a lead apron that important? We as a whole tend to overlook some things now and again. There isn’t a dental hygienist or orthodontist alive that hasn’t asked the question sooner or later. We may have even committed the act of taking shortcuts without realizing it already — neglecting to record in our patients file; spilling some fluid on a patient; breaking the rebuilding effort with a curette; diagramming inaccurately; accidentally spraying fluid in my patient’s face; and, finally forgetting the lead apron.

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With some investigation into the practice of lead protection. Before 1980, X-beam machines did not need to have lead-lined cones that collimated the essential pillar. This means, when the X Ray was taken, radiation dissipated throughout the room. Some of you who graduated before 1980 may remember the pointed plastic cones.

The use of lead-lined cones restricts the pillar to the distance across the collimating device. This means it will lessen the measure of dispersed radiation. The essential pillar is tied to the little space on the face where it is coordinated.

Some practices do not use lead protection at all. If you ask why none of the patients are protected, the staff will often tell you that the use of a lead shield can influence the film. Some organizations however still recommend protecting with a full upper middle shield.

If you look around the Internet Dental Forums about the use of lead apron protection, you’ll get some interesting answers. Here are a few I’ve found:

  • “The only time we typically use lead aprons in our office is on pregnant patients.”
  • “A few places on the body require that protecting not be utilized to be effective. I usually tell my patients that it’s a practice coming from old hardware that had considerably more problems and was not collimated like our present machines.”
  • “We don’t use lead aprons with all x rays. We do utilize them for some though, likely out of habit more than anything.”
  • “We use to have a thyroid monitor and a lead cover only if the patient was pregnant. With advanced machines we don’t use the thyroid protection anymore.”
  • “The majority of the dissipate would occur behind the lead shield. A significant part of the shot happens with the cylinder head behind the patient too.”

A few specialists made some very interesting points. For instance, one specialist has been stated saying: “57 dental X-beams is equal to one evening at the beach.” Another specialist cited a radiology teacher as saying: “1 BWX is equal to 1 cigarette.” Another specialist used to tell patients that they get more radiation from their shading TVs than dental X-beams.

We can’t technically evaluate the dangers of one cigarette or one BWX. We know the dangers of radiation in bigger amounts, yet it simply isn’t possible to calculate accurate sums of the above statements. They are however, interesting points to think about!

In the United Kingdom, the lead cook’s garment has not been suggested for a long time. Some specialists have even gone as far as saying that lead smocks really cause more negative impact than not, saying the dissipate radiation can end up stuck under the shield and be retained near the mid-region.

One comment that stood out amongst originated from a British specialist: “I will cite from section 102 of Guidelines on Radiological Standards for Primary Dental Care, distributed by the National Radiological Protection Board in 1994. ‘There is no compulsory prerequisite for the normal utilization of lead covers for patients in dental radiography. Lead covers don’t ensure against radiation dissipated inside the body, and just give a practicable level of security on account of the rarely utilized vertex occlusal projection. Indeed, even in the last case, the utilization of a lead cook’s garment must be viewed as reasonable for a female patient who seems to be, or might be pregnant.'”

With this you can assume if you were doing a vertex occlusal film in a pregnant patient you wouldn’t utilize protection, regardless of whether prepared film is in play or not. Because the pillar is collimated, there isn’t any way the radiation would get to the mid-region.

In the end, there are a lot of conclusions you can take from this.

With some investigation into the need for lead apron protection or not, the more you look, the more you will find. The simple fact is that protection may be expected by most patients. Not only that, but it may be a normal habit for you already. Since radiation is collective over a lifetime, we should keep on using lead aprons until the point that we can confirm that there is no longer a need. Technology will always continue to improve protection and someday will be provide better methods.