By School of Dentistry - February 19, 2014

To ensure compliance with state radiation regulations, the California Dental Association is encouraging all dental practices, clinics, and dental educational programs to obtain the CDA’s recently updated Radiation Safety in Dental Practice guide.

Because “Dentists have a responsibility to protect their patients and their staff and to make sure necessary exposures are kept as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA),” says CDA President James Stephens, DDS, all sources of radiation must be accompanied by a copy of the radiation regulations and a written radiation safety program. “Familiarizing themselves with the CDA’s updated Radiation Safety guide is one way dentists can ensure they’re practicing safely.”

X-ray technology has changed considerably since the Guide was first published in 1996. Digital systems are more common today, and the use of cone beam computed tomography is increasing. Quality assurance regulations for X-ray film were adopted in 2012, and the Department of Public Health (DPH) now requires all sources of radiation to be accompanied by a written radiation safety program. Additionally, the use of protective aprons continues to be a requirement.

The guide reviews the responsibilities of the licensed dentist and X-ray machine owner, as well as essential principles for reducing patient and occupational exposure to radiation.

The radiation safety program template included in the guide that allows the dentist or X-ray machine owner to fill in the necessary information, was created with the assistance of the DPH, which also has a guidance document on its website ( that assists all X-ray machine registrants to develop a written radiation safety program.

Given the ongoing development in technology and usage, the Radiation Safety in Dental Practice Guide is likely to be updated again in five years.