Dental X-rays and the link to benign meningiomas.

Earlier this Spring an article published in Cancer found that patients with benign brain tumors (meningiomas) had certain types of dental X-rays during their lifetimes. I was surprised that this type of sensationalist journalism was actually published. As a trained evidence based dentist I quickly reviewed the study and found the conclusions to be radiobiologically impossible.

I've been practicing in Levittown for over 30 years and have treated over 8,000 patients and can't recall a single patient with a meningioma. The actual study questioned 1,433 patients with the tumor to a control group of 1,350. The tumor group participants ranged in age from 20-79 and had to recall the time in their life when the X-rays were taken and how many. 

Sometimes conclusions in life are very obvious. If you jump out of an airplane with a parachute you live and without one you don't. This study concluded that patients who had 2 or 4 bitewing X-rays had a 50 to 100 percent higher risk of developing a meningioma compared to patients who received a full mouth series of X-Rays or a Panorex film. The problem is that a full mouth series of X-rays contains 2-4 bite wings and then 16 additional X-rays as well. A Panorex film exposes the entire mouth. The conclusion defies all logic and science. The energy from a dental X-ray travels in a straight line and most of it is absorbed by the lead backing on the film. Little if any energy ever reaches the brain.

Today dental care and dental X-rays are much safer. The amount of electronic radiation is limited and confined to the small area examined. The American Dental Association (ADA) has established guidelines to follow for radiation safety and many times the X-ray is limited to your toothache or specific problem. If you have any concerns about dental X-rays play it safe and ask the dentist. You can always call the Levittown dental office at 516-796-6600 to discuss you concerns.


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Dr. Marc Gottlieb is one of Long Island's leading dental practicioners, specializing in helping those who feel anxiety or apprehension when visiting the dentist. He can be reached at marc@anxietyfreedental.com