For decades, dentists have relied on dental x-rays to get an inside peek into the teeth, bones and surrounding soft tissues in order to accurate pinpoint dental problems. While the photo-image has been deemed incredibly helpful, effective and safe enough, research has indicated that dental X-rays could potential increase the risk of the developing common brain tumors.
The view provided by digital radiology comes courtesy of small bursts of radiation. Lighter images indicate solid tooth matter where darker spots can help dentists find signs of tooth decay, cavities or wisdom teeth not visible to the naked eye. The X-ray machine has been an essential tool in dental clinics for countless years and while the Food and Drug Administration (the government agency charged with overseeing the approval and use of the machines) deem digital radiology safe, findings from a case controlled study has proved the imagining process is not without its risks.
X-Rays and Brain Tumors
Findings published in Cancer, (a scientific journal of the American Cancer Society) have shown that dental x-rays can double the chance of a meningioma (a common brain tumor) from occurring.The data evaluation conducted by scientists from Yale, Harvard and other prestigious institutions has noted an increase of the specific brain tumor in relation to dental X-rays.
In relation to the specific type of brain tumor, the meningioma can grow, but will not spread to other areas of the body. Annually, 5,000 new patients are diagnosed with the condition and even without treatment will continue to live long, healthy lives (http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/10/11106520-dental-x-rays-can-double-brain-tumor-risk-study-finds?lite).
Scientists interviewed 1,433 study participants all diagnosed with meningioma. That data was compared to the results collected by 1,350 people with no signs of the condition. This case study revealed:
- An increased tumor risk increased in people who reported receiving bitewing exams that used X-ray film held in place by a tab. The X-rays were delivered at least once a year.
- An increased tumor risk linked to the panorex dental exam that relies on an exterior x-ray to properly image all teeth.
- Adults who reported having panorex dental exams during their childhood (as defined as being younger than age ten) had a five times greater risk of developing the brain tumors.