Recently, some interesting connections have been made regarding dental x-rays and a particular type of brain tumor. There are a number of adults who receive annual x-rays for their teeth for whatever reason, and many of these people have wound up developing a specific kind of brain tumor that appears to be related to dental imaging. This tumor is called a non-malignant meningioma tumor. Receiving a routine annual dental x-ray seems to be the most common cause. People receive radiation from these pictures of their teeth, and if they are scanned yearly when they visit their dentist office, they will be more likely to be at risk for this brain tumor.
The American Dental Association has been asking their members to scan patients’ teeth only as needed. Annual dental x-rays are too much, so the recommendation is to receive these scans every 2 to 3 years as necessary.
There are two types of x-ray scans: panoramic or bitewing. The risk in developing a brain tumor seems to be much higher with a panoramic type, especially if the patient received it when they were younger than 10 years of age. Knowing that many children have problems with teeth development early on, we should all be very aware of the fact that they may have already been exposed to quite a bit of radiation. We can probably expect to see a rise in meningioma before it starts to go away completely, since this news was just recently discovered.
It is important to note that the meningioma tumor caused by radiation in these scans is considered non-malignant, or benign. However, the tumor can grow to a large size and cause problematic symptoms such as hearing loss, frequent headaches, loss of vision, and memory loss. Some of these tumors can also cause seizures, so knowing how much is too much when it comes to your dental health is extremely important.
When it comes to receiving dental imaging, you should take note of whether your dental technician takes the appropriate precautions. Using protective aprons and collars should always be at the top of the list, and if you do not receive any protective gear before they take images of your teeth, make sure to speak up and let them know you must be protected from the radiation before they start. You may not notice this other detail, but you can certainly ask your technician about the film speed he or she is using. They may reply that they use digital imaging, which is a good sign that you will be protected even more.
With all the dental options we have today, it is best to consider all types of dental insurance so you can get the kind of dental care you need.