The CNN article released last week cited study by the journal Cancer that described a connection between frequent dental X-rays and the formation of benign meningioma brain tumors. Since this study was released a week ago, there has been an enourmous amount of confusion and concern regarding the need for dental X-rays and a potential risk of brain tumors. Evaluating this study, an absensce of epidemiological method evaluation has been found, resulting in the lack of scientific, evidence-based conclusions. Participants with an average age of 57.5 years were asked to report the number of times they received dental X-rays at 10 years of age or younger. The use of validated dental records was limited, and the reliance for accuracy was based on patient’s memory recall. The participants also received the bulk of their dental exams in previous decades, when X-ray equipment exposed patients to significantly higher levels of radiation than current machines. This type of retrospective study is memory-biased, imperfect and an unreliable way to report statistical data.
The study suggested a potential correlation, not a cause and effect. The study had numerous limitations, including an inaccuracy in the number of dental X-rays received, dental X-ray film speed advances, reportedly higher radiation values than today’s higher film-speeds and the use of digital radiology, both with substantially lower radiation exposure. No consideration was given to air pollution, pesticides, sitting too close to television sets or the use of cell phones. Today, the X-ray beam used is more focused and emits much less radiation than in the past. An individual can receive more radiation playing two rounds of golf, traveling in an airplane, or just doing yard work in the sun than with the routine digital dental X-ray.
Advances in X-ray technology have lowered radiation doses by an average of 70% in the last two decades since digital imaging has been introduced. According to Dr. Mark Barnes, “Dental radiographs are reported to be the lowest dose radiation of any health care technology today.”
Use of dental imaging is based on a professional judgment to make a diagnosis of a potential disease that can include dental decay, abscessed teeth and bone tumors of the jaw structures. Digital X-rays provide dental professionals with the diagnostic tools necessary to save natural teeth and to prevent systemic diseases. According to the American Dental Association, the use of dental X-rays depends on the patient’s oral health condition, age, risk for disease and any signs or symptoms of oral disease that a patient may be experiencing. At Cedar Cliff Dental Center in Eagan, MN, the proper use of digital X-rays and all possible precautions are taken to provide our patients with the most accurate and safe diagnosis possible. Call us today with any questions or to schedule a comprehensive exam.
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