There has been an explosion on the internet and TV news in the last 24 hours related to a study done at Yale. This was a study that was designed to try to correlate dental bite wing x-rays and a type of brain tumor, Meningioma. In my opinion there were several flaws that were not disclosed. The patients were asked to recall what dental films were taken in their childhood. They then tried to draw a link the films and brain tumors. I feel that is impossible to do and a much better designed study is needed to make these assumptions. A common topic the media discusses from time to time is the amount of radiation exposure that occurs in a dental or orthodontic office. On November 22, 2010, The New York Times published an article titled, “Radiation Worries for Children in Dentists’
Chairs.” In the article they discussed the usage of cone beam CT
scanners on children, and quoted Boston periodontist, Dr.
Nicholas Dello Russo saying “The parents of these children have
no idea about the amount of radiation used in these CT scans, and
even more frightening, neither do the dentists.” These types of
articles are typically catered to the lay public, where a quote from
an expert will convey the message that there is no such thing as safe
radiation. While this might be true to an extent, dental radiography
is safe, minimal and has an important role in a person’s overall
health when used judiciously.
To address the concerns and allay the fears of patients and their
parents who object or question the use of X-rays in dentistry and
orthodontics, the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health
Postgraduate Orthodontics Program Class of 2013 created an educational
visual aid under the direction of their instructor, Clifford
Running, DDS. The essence of the graph was that dental x-rays are a very small part of your yearly exposure. For example, measured in micro Sieverts, background radiation on a daily basis is 40. An airplane trip is 50. Chest x-ray 70, abdominal 600, mammogram 3000. The yearly allotment for medical worker is 50,000. There are studies that show under 50,000 there is little risk for cancer concerns. A single dental x-ray is 0.2, full mouth series (18 films) 3.9, Cephalometric x-ray 9, panoramic film 10, or a cone beam computed Tomography 36.  Also remember that if digital radiation is used that is 70% less old films utilized in the Yale study.. The bottom line is that dental x-rays are low on their radiation and if they used as recommended by the American Dental Association guidelines then they help to maintain your dental health and avoid larger problems. Here at the office we have for years tailored our x-ray usage to the needs of the patient.

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