Yearly Dental X-rays Might Raise Brain Tumor Risk

April 11, 2012

There is new concern that having dental x-rays once a year on your entire mouth can increase your risk of getting a brain tumors.  A new study finds a correlation between past frequent dental x-rays, which are the most common source of exposure to ionizing radiation in the U.S, and an increased risk of developing meningioma. Click here to learn more in this report from CBS News This Morning.

Meningioma is the most common primary brain tumor in the United States and accounts for about 33 percent of all primary brain tumors. The first question you ask, of course, is “Should I have x-rays at the dentist’s office?”

Neurosurgeon Dr. David Langer told CBS cutting down on unnecessary x-rays is, no doubt, a good thing, because we know radiation is not good for us.  So, in the end, it is a cost benefit analysis.  If you have symptoms, get an x-ray.   If it’s just routine to get an x-ray, because that’s what we do every year, it might be time to start questioning it.

The study was conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Yale University School of Medicine, Duke University, UCSF and Baylor College of Medicine.  Study author Dr. Elizabeth Claus. a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Yale University School of Medicine at New Haven, said in a hospital written statement.

For the study, Dr. Claus and her colleagues studied more than 1,400 patients between the ages of 20 and 79 who had been diagnosed with the meningioma, and compared them to a group of 1,350 healthy controls between the same ages. Compared with control subjects, patients with a brain tumor were twice as likely to say they had a specific type of dental X-ray called a “bitewing exam.” A bitewing X-ray shows details of the upper and lower teeth to detect decay between teeth and bone density changes caused by gum disease.