(HealthDay News) -- Whether you need a better picture of an aching arm after a fall or an inside glimpse of your pearly whites, some X-rays are a medical necessity.

But despite their undisputed value, X-rays also expose you to radiation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers these guidelines to minimize unnecessary radiation exposure:

  • Find out how an X-ray will benefit you. Don't refuse an X-ray that is medically necessary.
  • On the other hand, don't push for an X-ray if your doctor says one isn't needed.
  • If you are pregnant or even think you might be, always let the technician know before getting an X-ray.
  • Ask if you can wear a protective lead shield.
  • Ask if lower-radiation X-rays are available.
  • Keep a list of your X-ray history to track how often you have them.