Possible Link Between Dental X-Rays & Brain Tumors

April 11, 2012

X-rays are the most common source of ionic radiation, a type which has been linked to cancers in the past.

The most common type of brain turmor, a meningioma, has been linked through a study pbublished in the journal Cancer. Yearly dental x-rays, which many dentists recommend, as well as more frequent exposure to x-rays before the age of ten showed the highest increase in chance for developing meningioma.

Although usually benign, brain tumor symtoms can be varied depending on its location in the brain. Impaired personality, speech, and motor skills are all possible brain tumor symptoms. About 1-2% of people will die without ever know they had a meningioma because they rarely cause brain tumor symptoms.

There are flaws in the study: the participants had a broad age range that was not controlled for, something that’s important given a dental x-ray used to cause a lot more exposure to radiation, and the partcipants were surveyed based on their memory of x-rays, not their dental records.

But there’s an easy conclusion here—x-rays should be minimized, something the new Choosing Wisely camapaign would agree with, but still performed when necessary. Unless you have frequent cavities or a sudden change in dental health, yearly x-rays are probably too much. The authors of the study advise asking your dentist what your benefit you receive from th x-rays, and then working out a more custom schedule, or limiting the x-rays to the problem teeth rather than doing a long series.

Over the past three years, the dental industry has been hit particularly hard by the recession. It’s a service that many people are fine with procrastinating when money’s tight, and that’s caused a lot of cut-backs in many offices (we’ve even heard a few stories of people feeling they needed to change dentists after unnecessary procedures—like replacing dental work “just in case”—were (sometimes aggressively) pushed toward them).

Make sure that you have a dentist that you trust, and think about all medical procedures in terms of your own needs and risks and discuss those with your health care professionals.

Let us know what you think in the commetns!

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