Serenity Smile designs is dedicated to providing the best possible care for our patients. We have provided this information to provide an explanation to the recent media reports about the increased incidence(slightly above the risk of 6 in every 100,000) of brain cancer(meningioma) as a result of dental x-rays. The studies sound very alarming, so it is important to understand what they really mean. I will preface by saying that our office uses the most advanced digital x-ray available on the market which provides 75% lower radiation than other standard dental xray technology. In this article we have provided statistics show how much radiation a person is exposed and how much of that actually comes from digital dental xrays. So before you panic read on.
A more extensive article detailing flaws in the study can be found at Reuters.
Dental X-rays have have very small relative amount of radiation aimed at a very small film compared to any other medical grade x-ray or cat scan. Dentists shield your neck and upper torso to protect to those areas when it’s really not needed. And really, that’s all the shield is.
Why does the dentist leave the room when taking x-rays? The dentist leaves the room because they do this all day long — yes, sitting for one X-ray session (as you are) isn’t bad. But the dentist might do 10 of these in a day. That’s ten times the exposure you get, and then they do it day after day after day. So that’s why they leave the room.
OK, now that I answered those two main questions, allow me to present a few facts/findings regarding radiation and dental x-rays.
Dental X-rays are very targeted
Unlike conventional X-rays on other parts of the body (which usually take a picture of a large area), dental X-rays are very targeted to a small part of the body. In fact, it’s typically shot via a cone (like a laser), and very focused. This ultra-precise targeting (plus your lead apron) ensures that just a small part of the body receives the small dose of radiation.
The exposure is minimal compared to other types of X-rays, and even daily living
According to the American Dental Association the radiation you receive is scant.
So essentially, you get about three and a half times the radiation from space (if you live in Denver) than you do from a full mouth X-ray.
Radiation also is present in just about everything from one degree or another.
With digital x-rays, Dental x-rays emit even less radiation
Digital X-rays have been around for awhile now, and are quite popular, although I will say that not all dentists use them, because the equipment is expensive. But the advantages are so profound that I believe you should probably seek out a dentist who does. Amongst the benefits are: immediate viewing of the digital image, easy storage for comparison, the ability to enhance the image, better communication between dental practitioners (when you can e-mail an X-ray, it’s a huge timesaver), and (ready for it?) LOWER radiation. In some cases, up to 80 percent lower. This is a pretty big deal.
As you can see, the radiation you get from dental X-rays is negligible (even without the just-mentioned digital x-rays). You receive more radiation by just “living” than you do by going to your dentist. But the benefits of dental X-rays are huge — in most cases, we cannot see dental issues without them. With X-rays, we can catch that cavity well before you feel it — without an X-ray, it could linger (painlessly, even), until the tooth becomes infected. Then, it’s generally either a root canal, or you lose the tooth. That’s a heavy price to pay — trust me, the X-ray is well worth it.
Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding structures cannot be viewed without xrays. they can help reveal
The Washington State Department states that the maximum safe occupational whole body exposure is 5000 mRem (this means you would need 15,000 digital x rays to reach this limit)
A single digital x ray- emits 0.30 mRem
Four digital bitewings (checkup x rays) 1.2mRem
Digital full mouth series 6mrem
About half of the total annual average U.S. individual’s radiation exposure comes from natural sources. The other half is mostly from diagnostic medical procedures. The average annual radiation exposure from natural sources is about 310 millirem (3.1 millisieverts or mSv). Radon and thoron gases account for two-thirds of this exposure, while cosmic, terrestrial, and internal radiation account for the remainder. No adverse health effects have been discerned from doses arising from these levels of natural radiation exposure.
American Society of Clinical Oncology published that Meningioma accounts for approximately 34% of primary brain tumors (tumors that start in the brain) in the United States and occurs in approximately six of every 100,000 people. Meningioma is rare in children.
92% of meningiomas are benign, with 8% being either atypical or malignant. Wikipedia
Even if we doubled the risk, as in the Yale study, your risk would be 12 out of 100,000.
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