So, I’m sure everyone has heard the stories and read the articles
claiming that dental x-rays increase the chance of brain tumors. These
articles are telling people that studies have found that annual bitewings,
frequent panorex films, and radiographic exposure at a young age all increase
a person’s chance of developing
meningiomas. The problem is people are reading the headlines and not the details.
A lot of these studies were based on people who have had high exposures
to radiation, such as survivors of atomic bombs. As far as the relativity
of exposure to dental radiation, the studies were done when higher dose
x-ray methods were used. According to Wikipedia, no recent studies have
examined associations between dental x-rays and meningioma during the
era when radiation doses for conventional x-rays have decreased and newer
imaging techniques, such as computed tomography, have been introduced.
Here are some comparisons to show just how little radiation is received
from current methods of dental radiography:
Some people may ask if dental x-rays are absolutely necessary, and the
answer is ABSOLUTELY YES! Although many dentists, such as myself, keep
up on today’s quickly advancing technology by using things such
as intraoral cameras, lasers, and magnification glasses, we are still
unable to see through teeth, gums, and bone. For this reason, x-rays are
needed to properly diagnose and treat issues of the mouth. With the proper
use of dental x-rays, issues such as cavities, infections, lesions, developmental
issues and many others can be detected and treated at an early stage and
also help to save time, money, and unnecessary discomfort. Radiographs
may be required while a woman is pregnant in order to keep the mother
and the fetus healthy, and as long as the mother is properly protected
with a lead apron, she and her baby will be just fine. Keep in mind that
everyone has different needs when it comes to frequency of dental x-rays,
and your dentist will more than likely weigh the benefits and the risks
before taking unnecessary radiographs.
Leaded aprons and thyroid shields that contain lead or other materials
are patient-protective equipment that minimize exposure to scattered radiation.
If all of the NCRP recommendations are followed rigorously, the use of
a leaded apron on patients is not required.
(National Council for Radiation Protection & Measurements. Radiation
protection in dentistry. Bethesda, Md.: National Council for Radiation
Protection & Measurements; 2003.) However, if any of the recommendations is not implemented, then a leaded
apron should be used.
Really, dental x-rays should not be feared or refused, but rather looked
upon as a great form of technology that can help to properly detect and
treat dental issues and concerns. If you have any question about dental
radiographs, feel free to ask your dentist about them.