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New Regulations Set Out For X-Ray Use In Dentistry

Dentists and their teams around the UK will have to make note of changes to the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999 and Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000, which have just been published by the Department of Health.

This applies equally to the UK and won’t be affected by Brexit proposals, since we’re going to be part of the UK until at least March next year.

Under the previous rules and regulations, employers had to let the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) know if they were using ionising radiation. But now the HSE has taken on a graded approach based on perceived risk, with three levels defined – notification, registration and consent.

X-ray equipment for dental use has been put into the middle grade, which means that dental practices will have to register with the HSE, which will include a payment of £25. Registration will be done through an online system currently in development and the employer will have to answer a list of questions to identify which risk level is associated with their use of ionising radiation.

“Dentists need not be alarmed by the revised legislation, but they do need to understand and prepare for it. Additionally, the FGDP(UK) will be here to guide you through the changes. You should expect information and support from your radiation protection adviser if you have not already received it,” Mr Horner went on to say.

The main difference between ionising and non-ionising radiation is that the former carries more energy than the latter, including the likes of X-rays, gamma rays and radiation from radioactive sources, as well as those of naturally occurring radiation like radon gas.

Non-ionising radiation includes the likes of visible light, UV light, infrared radiation and electromagnetic fields. Ionising radiation has a lot of uses in industry, such as medicine, manufacturing, energy production and research, providing many benefits to society. But it’s important that the risks are managed sensibly to protect both members of staff and the general public.

People can be exposed to radiation from a radioactive material or a generator like an X-ray set, or perhaps internally by inhaling or ingesting certain radioactive substances. Wounds that have been contaminated by radioactive material can also cause radioactive exposure.

Although everyone will receive some exposure to natural background radiation and a lot of us will have had the occasional medical or dental X-ray, the HSE is more concerned with the control of exposure arising from the use of radioactive materials and radiation generators at work.

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