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Dental X-Rays Do NOT Cause Meningiomas!

How many dental x-rays did you have taken when you were between the ages of 10 and 19? How about between 20 and 49?…Were they bitewings (2-4 films) or were they full-mouth series of films?…I tried to remember and I couldn’t even begin to guess. This is coming from someone who knew he wanted to be a dentist since he was 6 years old. So if anyone would remember, it would be me!

If you too can’t remember then you could have never been in that recent study that supposedly supports the belief that yearly or more frequent dental x-rays will increase one’s risk of developing meningioma; the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor. The ‘study’ was highlighted on Good Morning America as well as many other news shows that picked it up and ran with it because it is an anti-dentite attention-grabber. The ADA has reviewed the study and notes that the results rely on the individuals’ memories of having dental X-rays taken many years earlier. Studies have shown that the ability to recall information is often imperfect. Therefore, the results of studies that use this design can be unreliable because they are affected by what scientists call “recall bias.” Also, the study acknowledges that some of the subjects received dental x-rays decades ago when radiation exposure was greater than it is today. Radiation rates were higher in the past due to the use of old x-ray technology and slower speed film.

Since 1989, the ADA has published recommendations to help dentist ensure that radiation exposure is a low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). We abide by this practice when deciding whether or not you should get x-rays taken at your cleaning visits as well as which type of film(s) we should use. We have always and will continue to take this very seriously. The images that we take are important in helping us diagnose potential problems that you may have. Many oral diseases can’t be detected on the basis of a visual and physical examination alone, and dental x-rays are valuable in providing information about your oral health such as early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections or some types of tumors. How often dental x-rays should be taken depends on your oral health condition, age, risk for disease and any signs and symptoms of oral disease that you might be experiencing,

In 2010, we made a very important decision to convert our office to digital x-rays that allow us to get even more diagnostic data by using only a fraction of the radiation that traditional film-based x-rays use. So the next time your friend asks you if your dentist takes supposed “tumor-causing” x-rays, ask them if their dentist cares enough about you to use digital radiography like we do…and then ask them how many hot dogs they ate between the ages of 10 and 19!

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