When Are Dental X-Rays Necessary?

Neurosurgeon Dr. David LangerAre dental x-rays dangerous? Is once a year too often? Should you make a risk-benefit analysis next time you’re in the dentist’s office?

A new study conducted by researchers at Yale University has found an association between dental x-rays and a type of brain tumor called meningiomas. The researchers found that people who had x-rays of their whole mouth at least once a year were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor.

The study, “Dental X-Rays and Risk of Meningioma,” by Elizabeth Claus, MD, PhD, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues, was published online in the journal Cancer.

In the following video, “CBS This Morning” co-hosts discuss the study with Neurosurgeon Dr. David Langer, Director of Research at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Langer provides some practical tips for dental patients on when to have a dental x-ray and when not to.

“If you have symptoms – if you have pain in your teeth – and the dentist examines you and is concerned you have a cavity, you need an x-ray,” says Dr. Langer. However, “In general it would make sense to do x-rays less frequently, because we know — not just based on this study, but any study that’s ever been out there — that radiation is not a good thing – for your face, your teeth, your brain,” Dr. Langer says.

So perhaps, in light of this study, you may want to consider, in consultation with your dentist, whether it makes sense to do routine annual x-rays of your whole mouth, in the absence of any apparent dental problem.

Watch and listen to Dr. David Langer’s advice to dental patients on how to react to the new study »


More Information

The study referred to in the video, “Dental X-Rays and Risk of Meningioma,” was conducted by Elizabeth Claus, MD, PhD, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues. It was published online April 10, 2012 in the journal Cancer.

See also related HelpingYouCare® reports on:

Dental Health Key to Good Physical Health, Experts Say

Oral & Dental Hygiene for Good Health

Avoid Unnecessary Medical Tests That Involve Exposure to Radiation

Radiation Risks from CT Scans

Tooth Loss May Lead to Memory Loss


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