The topic of dental x-rays is a controversial one. It depends on who you ask. Most dentists are for it. As a matter of fact, a significant number strongly advocate you get X-ray images of your teeth done, even for a regular check up, before they see you. They are quick to point out that the radiation is in very small quantities – insignificant even – incapable of harming the body. On the other hand, some general practitioners and naturalists will swear getting a dental x-ray is the equivalent of inviting brain tumors, cancers and blood disorders e.g. leukemia into your body. No doubt this is a very delicate topic. So, who should you believe? Dental X-Rays: The Study Between May 2006 and April 2011, a professor from the Yale school of medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, Dr. Elizabeth Claus, recruited over 1,433 people between the ages of 20 and 79 with intracranial meningioma, a tumor on the tissue of the brain allegedly caused by radiation from dental x-rays. During the same period she also had her team follow over 1350 people without the tumor between the same age bracket, gender and who lived in the same area as the diagnosed parties. The people were from the states of Massachusetts, North Carolina, Connecticut, San Francisco and Houston, Texas. Over the course of five years, these people were monitored on the number of times they got three different types of dental x-rays. The x-rays included bitewing x-rays which capture details of the upper and lower teeth from the crown to the supporting bone on film and is done by placing an x-ray film between the teeth held by a tab, panoramic x-rays, i.e. x-rays projected from outside the mouth used to capture an image of all the teeth from one angle on one film and periapical x-rays i.e several x-rays performed to capture the entire mouth in different angles and details the teeth from the crown to the roots in about 14 to 21 films. At the end of the study, the participants were given questionnaires to fill on the number of times they received the different x-rays during the 5 year period. They were also asked to include other information such as history of cancer in their family, their medical history and the number of times they’ve had dental x-rays administered on them during their lifetime. Dental X-Rays: The Findings Doctor Clause and her team found that those diagnosed with meningioma in their forties and fifties were more than twice as likely to have received several bitewing exams during their childhood and early adulthood years. Also, regardless of the age one gets bitewing images taken, provided they’re taken yearly or frequently, the person has a 40 to 90 percent chance of developing a brain tumor compared to those who receive them once every couple of years. An increased risk of developing meningioma was also associated with periapical and panoramic x-rays when conducted frequently. Children below the age of 10 who received these x-rays more than 3 times a year had a 95 percent increased risk of developing meningioma in adulthood. The risk dropped with age increase but was still high whenever dental x-rays were performed frequently. Conclusion Regardless of the age, when performed frequently, dental x-rays increase the risk of developing meningioma (brain tumor). Meningioma is not cancerous but it can cause seizures, loss of speech, migraines , loss of motor control and vision problems. What to do? The best dental health and overall body tip is to avoid overexposure to radiation. This greatly reduces your chances of developing meningioma and other brain tumors. One way you can do this is by steering clear of unnecessary dental x-rays by consulting your dentist firsthand. Some unnecessary x-rays include:
Full mouth periapical x-rays: Only an irresponsible dentist will require 14 to 21 different shots of your mouth and teeth on film. This form of x-ray is unwarranted and quite frankly very dangerous to your health.
Cephalographs i.e. x-rays of your teeth and head to show your teeth in relation to your profile. This x-ray used to be carried out as a routine before regular dental treatment would commence. Avoid it. It’s not necessary. Not anymore.
3-D cone beam computed tomography. This is the latest dental x-ray that mimics a CT scan. It’s done for a detailed observation of wisdom teeth before extraction. It’s also used in orthodontics. It exposes one to a lot more radiation than other x-rays and has yet to be honed to use less rays since it is still relatively new. Use it as a last resort.
Another way to avoid overexposure is to avoid bitewing x-rays in your regular checkups when visiting your dentist. If possible, children below 10 years should only receive dental x-rays if they’re absolutely necessary. Adults are advised to have at least one bitewing image taken every 2 years to be on the safe side and avoid preventive x-rays meant to flush out any budding gum and teeth disorders when they visit a dentist. If not sure about getting certain x-ray images, get a second, a third and even a fourth opinion. The consultation might seem excessive but it might just help you avoid meningioma in your life and even live to your sunset years. About the Author: This guest post is brought to you by Chig Amin of Epsom Dental Centre , a leading dental care and cosmetic dentistry provider in the heart of Epsom, Surrey. Know our latest company updates by visiting our website or by checking out our .
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