A recent study published in the American Socity of Cancer’s journal, CANCER, associating frequent dental X-rays with an increased risk of developing meningioma–the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor–has resulted in much discussion among dental professionals and patients about the risks and benefits of radiographs (the term for pictures taken with X-rays), particularly for children.
Even though it appears that the validity of this particular study is questionable, it has provided a good opportunity for reminding people about several key facts surrounding dental X-rays:
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists have long-standing positions that dentists should order dental X-rays for patients only when necessary for diagnosis and treatment.
Compared to the amount of radiation that we are exposed to daily from cosmic radiation and naturally-occurring radioactive elements such as those producing radon, the amount of radiation from dental X-rays is very small.
When the dentist examines a patient’s mouth, there are many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues that cannot be seen. An X-ray examination allows the dentist to see areas of decay between the teeth or below existing fillings, infections in the bone, gum disease, abscesses or cysts, developmental abnormalities and some types of tumors. Early detection and treatment of dental conditions can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort.
Most importantly, we welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns regarding any component of treatment, including the neccessity of periodic radiographs or X-rays. If you have any questions about the recommended treatment, please feel free to review your concerns with any of our office personnel. Bend: 541.317.1887; Redmond: 541.923.1300.
Additional Information and links:
American Academy of Pediatric Dentists
Guideline on Prescribing Dental Radiographs for Infants, Children, Adolescents and Persons with Special Health Care Needs
American Dental Association
Dental X-rays Should Be Used Sparingly to Reduce Radiation Risk
American Cancer Society
Study Examines Possible Link Between Dental X-rays and Meningioma Risk
Kios Center article straddling patient information and radiation chart exposure comparison
How Much Radiation do I Get from a Dental X-ray?
Dental X-Ray Frequency and Safety