Brain Tumors from Dental X-Rays?

The American Cancer Society recently reported a link between brain tumors and dental x-rays. The study focused on people with bitewing x-rays. I have not seen bitewing x-rays in years, but I recall them as a child. They were the hard plastic T shaped pieces they would put in your mouth prior to running the xray machine.

People who had bitewing xrays were amost twice as likely to develop a benign form brain tumor called meningioma. Although the tumors are mostly benign, they can still cause significant issues if wrongly asserted on the brain which could impact motor skills, speach, etc. In addition, people who had a panorex exam before the age of 10 were almost five times more likely to develop meningioma. A panorex exam is a panoramic xray from a machine that goes around the outside of your head/mouth to create one continues xray.

A Few Important Notes

The study focused on people who had exams in the 1960s for a couple of reasons. One, exams given in the 1960s were loaded with higher doses of radiation compared to exams given today. Two, meningioma can take 20-30 years to show up after exposure to radiation. Three, the study relies on patients ability to recall memory from 20-30 years ago. How many people can recall if they have dental xrays 20-30 years ago? If so, what type and how many?

The ADA suggest that children receive x-rays once every 1-2 years and adolescents once every 1.5-3yrs and adults once every 3yrs. As an adult, I know my dentist takes xrays once every year. Without them, he would not be able to see the onset of decay. I suggest discussing this with your dentist to find the best approach.

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