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April 10, 2012

Dental X-rays Linked to Brain Tumors

In a study spanning over decades, researchers have found an association between dental x-rays and increased risk of a non-malignant type of brain tumor called meningioma.

Of the four types of dental x-rays, only the full-mouth series was associated with this increased risk. More specifically, the risk was elevated with the aggregate number of full-mouth series in 10-year periods from approximately 15–40 years before diagnosis, with significant elevations in the 10-year periods beginning 22–30 years before diagnosis. The risks in these analyses were even greater when only women were considered.

One needs to be aware that radiation exposure from full-mouth series was much greater in the past than it is now and as such, this risk may be nominal (though not zero) with current dental x-ray technology.


However, it also should be a reminder that x-rays should not be routinely performed unless there is a very good reason to obtain especially in children who are more susceptible to radiation injury... and that applies to not only x-rays, but any kind of testing involving ionizing radiation including CT scans.

Some x-rays should NEVER be performed including sinus x-rays for sinus problems given a nearly 50% error rate in diagnosing the presence OR absence of sinus problems.

X-rays for nasal fractures is not recommended given x-rays rarely change how such fractures are managed.

Soft-tissue lateral x-rays to look for large adenoids should also be discouraged as nasal endoscopy can provide similar if not better information without any radiation exposure.

To know what the cancer risk is with different types of x-rays, check out this website!

Source:
Dental X-rays and the risk of intracranial meningioma. Cancer. Volume 100, Issue 5, pages 1026–1034, 1 March 2004

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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