X-Rays tied to brain tumors

If you are like me, you dislike going to the dentist.  My emotion is more akin to hate going to the dentist.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my dentist, just hate the procedures that I have to go through.


My mother was very consistent with dental visits when I was a kid.  We went every six months, and I don’t think we had dental insurance.  My dentist was kin to the dentist depicted on Marathon Man.   When I watched that movie, I had horrible flash backs to my time in his chair.  Things are easier now, but not much.


Besides the somewhat painful procedures that we are subjected to, there is the added risk of radiation poisoning that occurs from dental x-rays.  According to a recent study by the American Cancer Society publication Journal, there is a link between certain dental x-rays and brain tumors.


“The study found at a general level that people with meningioma were more than twice as likely as people without the brain tumor to have had a bitewing x-ray sometime in their lives. (The Houston Chronicle, 4/11/12)   The study also found an association between the less commonly used panorex x-ray, which are taken outside the mouth and deliver a panoramic view of the full set of top and bottom teeth, and meningioma risk.  People who reported having had a panorex exam before they turned 10 years old were 4.9 times as likely to develop meningioma as those who had them at any other time, and those who had them most frequently but not necessarily at that young age) were about three times as likely to do so as those who had never had a panorex exam.


The study reports that ionizing radiation is the major environmental risk factor for meningioma and that dental x-rays are the most common artificial source of exposure in the United States.”


So, what do we do?  Do we allow the dentist to take x-rays every visit?  Every other visit?  Do we allow our young children to be x-rayed?  If so, how often?  These are serious issues that need to be addressed with our dentists.  Obviously, the dentists feel that these x-rays are important to perform.  However, we must be mindful of our health and the health of our children.  We need to be proactive, and weigh out the risk/benefit of such procedures.


Until next time,