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Question of the Week - Body Piercings and X-rays

By October 1, 2006

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Q:I was supposed to have a panoramic x-ray at the dentist's office today but they told me I'd have to take out all of my piercings. I got my tongue ring out OK, but my earrings (CBRs) wouldn't come out. They told me they'd have to wait until I come back next time to do the x-rays and I'd have to make sure all of my piercings are out. Why does it matter if I have earrings in when they just want x-rays of my mouth?

A:The first time a nurse told me I'd have to remove my piercings for a panoramic x-ray, I was wondering what kind of horrible thing was going to happen to me if I couldn't get them out, which I couldn't. I had a CBR in my eyebrow that had never been taken out, and I had never even tried to remove my tongue barbell before. I thought maybe the x-ray machine was going to radiate my jewelry and make me sick or something! But she said they'd just go ahead and do the x-rays and hope for the best. I was scared!

When I saw the resulting x-ray pictures, I understood what the problem was. My earrings all created a nice black image in the shape of the jewelry that blocks the view of what they were trying to actually see. Your ears and nostrils are in line with your jaw. Lip and tongue jewelry would definitely obstruct the view of your teeth, gums, etc. So, the reason they ask you to remove the jewelry is so that they don't waste film getting pictures that are useless to them. Now when I go in for x-rays, I remove the ones I know will be in the way.

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