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The Importance of Radiation Shielding: Medical Diagnostic and Dental X-Ray Procedures

By October 17, 2023December 27th, 2023No Comments

Radiation shielding is crucial to safeguard the health of anyone exposed to X-rays during medical or dental procedures. Radiographers, interventional specialists, dentists, and patients require special barriers and apparel to protect them from potentially harmful radiation.

Modern X-ray technology’s contribution to the furtherment of medicine and dentistry is indisputable. The ability to see inside a patient in high definition, without invasive measures, is almost miraculous. However, risk reduction is the overriding consideration when using diagnostic X-rays. The ALARA Principle stipulates that radiation doses are kept As Low As Reasonably Achievable. Proper, adequate shielding is a non-negotiable aspect of this fundamental concept.


What Is Radiation Shielding?

X-ray radiation shielding materials contain extremely dense elements such as lead and tungsten. These metals have high atomic numbers and form tightly bound crystal lattices that attenuate the kinetic energy of X-rays striking them.

Lead and tungsten may be combined with other dense metals, rubber, plastics, glass, ceramics, and certain metal salts to boost their attenuation properties and make them easier to fabricate into shielding materials.

Traditionally, lead has been the gold standard for radiation shielding. However, materials science and metallurgical advances are moving away from this toxic metal. Barrier Technologies® is at the forefront of radiation shielding innovations.


Understanding the Importance of Radiation Shielding in Medical Diagnostics

The original X-ray machine has evolved into a host of diagnostic tools, including digital radiography systems, fluoroscopes, computed tomography (CT) scanners, bone densitometers, mammography, etc. All these devices produce ionizing radiation that can damage living tissue and DNA.

The National Library of Medicine posts the article “Radiation Safety and Protection” by Nicholas Frane and Adam Bitterman, which addresses the use of physical radiation shielding. Below are three compelling reasons for medical facilities to promote the importance of radiation shielding:

#1. Patient Safety

Patient safety is first and foremost. The potential benefit of an X-ray procedure must outweigh any risk of harm. Proper shielding ensures the minimum necessary dose, constrained to the smallest target area.

#2. Protecting Personnel

Healthcare professionals dedicate their lives to caring for others and may work long hours with radiation-emitting equipment. Stringent safety standards and adequate radiation shielding protect their health and well-being.

#3. Preserving Equipment

Shielding radiation preserves the integrity and operation of sensitive medical equipment. Uncontrolled radiation exposure can damage diagnostic machines, causing costly repairs or replacements.

Barrier Technologies is a leading provider of radiation shielding solutions in the healthcare industry. Our extensive range includes lead and lead-free aprons, thyroid collars, radiation gloves, leaded eyewear, mobile barriers, table drapes, pads, and more.


Effective Ways to Reduce Radiation During Dental X-Rays

High-speed computing has revolutionized dental X-ray procedures for accurate diagnoses and treatment planning. Modern machines use 80–90% less radiation than their predecessors. Digital sensors produce near-instantaneous, high-quality images. Rectangular collimation shapes the X-ray beam to match the target area. Algorithms perform post-processing adjustments to enhance image quality.

However, despite incredible advancements, dental radiation exposure still carries risks. Reported diseases include brain tumors, leukemia, cataracts, and cancers of the thyroid, salivary, and parotid glands.

Even the most sophisticated technology must be accompanied by behavioral precautions to mitigate health risks. These include:

  • Technique selection: Use the clinical indication to choose the appropriate type of X-ray, for example, bitewing vs. periapical.
  • Proper positioning: Restrict the X-ray beam to the smallest target area and avoid unnecessary repetition.
  • Minimal settings: Choose the lowest possible energy (kVp) and exposure duration settings for the diagnostic task.
  • Radiation-protective shielding: Use appropriate shielding, such as dental aprons.

Barrier Technologies supplies lightweight, bib-style dental aprons lined with 100% recyclable lead-free SecureShield™ core material. Opt for our stain-resistant, anti-bacterial UltraFlex fabric, and revolutionary MagnaGuard™ magnetic closures.


Benefits of Our Radiation Protection Products for X-Ray Procedures 

Barrier Technologies offers a vast range of products divided into two broad categories—those placed in the environment and those worn on the body.

Barrier Technologies’ Radiation Protection Products
1. Items Placed in the Environment:
Product Placement Benefits
Mobile Barriers Where required. – Light and easy to maneuver.
– BarrierSafe™ 1.6 mm LE shatter-resistant glass.
– Maximum protection for safe observation.
Terminator XR™ Around practitioners – Body-contoured, fully encapsulating barrier.
– Height adjustable and completely mobile.
– 1.0 mm LE per panel and 2.0 mm LE in overlaps.
Porta-Shields Where required. – Fully mobile and height adjustable.
– Sturdy 5-leg base with casters.
– Available in 3 sizes with cleanable nylon covers.
Table Shielding Drapes On the exam or imaging table. – Saddleback design fits any table.
– Customisable, with or without end flaps.
– Pleated 0.5 mm LE overlapping panels.
Protective Blankets Cover patients or equipment. – Versatile, can be used where needed.
– 0.5 mm LE with cleanable nylon covers.
– Block radiation in specific areas.
Secure Shield™ Pads At the procedure site. – Sterile, highly absorbent, disposable pads.
– Lead-free and environmentally friendly.
– Different designs for specific procedures.
2. Items Worn on the Body:
Product Placement Benefits
Protective Aprons Cover the torso, abdomen, and upper legs. – Frontal, wraparound, and skirt and vest options.
– Lead and lead-free in 0.35 and 0.5 LE.
– Comfortable, temperature-regulating textile covers.
Dental Aprons Cover the neck and torso. – High-necked to protect the thyroid gland.
– Ideal for both staff and patients.
– Easy to clean and disinfect.
Thyroid Collars Worn around the neck. – 0.5 mm LE protection for the neck and sternum.
– Boomerang, visor, and disposable options.
– Can be separate, sewn, or tethered to an apron.
Leaded Eyewear Protects the eyes. – Corning Med-X® 0.75 mm LE lenses.
– Clearest vision with maximum protection.
– Prescriptions are available in many frame styles.
Radiation Protective Gloves Cover the hands and forearms. – 3 lead-free options in 0.02 or 0.04 mm LE.
– Secure Touch® for maximum tactile sensitivity.
– Textured fingers and palms for a slip-free grip.
CT Protection Shields Cover parts of the patient. – Adult shields for the eyes, thyroid, and breast.
– Special pediatric shields for infants and children.
– Eco-friendly, lead-free, and disposable.


Barrier Technologies – Safeguarding You From X-Ray Radiation  

Radiation shielding, including physical barriers and PPE, is indispensable in modern medical and dental radiography. It supplies crucial safeguards for healthcare professionals and patients.

Barrier Technologies is a leader in medical diagnostic and dental X-ray radiation shielding products. Our expert designers prioritize easy use, cleaning, maintenance, and infection control, providing practical and long-lasting protection. Inquire about our customizable options and lead or lead-free core materials to suit your facility’s requirements.

Contact us to help you ensure your safety, regulatory compliance, and accurate diagnoses during X-ray procedures.