Exposure to any source of radiation can result in tissue damage. But exposure to radiation during an X-ray does not pose a health risk. Or does it? Recent studies have indicated that increased frequency of getting an X-ray may raise the risk of cancer. Find out the details in this Buzzle article.
According to the American Dental Association
A healthy adult should not have more than one bitewing X-ray in every two to three years.
Dental X-ray is a very common diagnostic procedure, usually recommended by dentists to find out cavities and other dental problems in patients. Though X-rays are helpful in the diagnosis, overexposure to X-rays may lead to tissue damage, and in some extreme cases, it may result in the development of cancer.
However the intensity of the radiation during an X-ray is very low, and hence, it does not raise any risk. Today, there are improved and advanced X-ray machines which have lower intensity and high-speed X-rays, which require a very short duration of exposure. These machines are capable of taking an X-ray of a very small area, which reduces the possibility of exposure to other body parts. Although all these advancements reduce the ill effects of X-rays, recent studies have shown that X-rays might increase the risk of developing cancer.
What does the Yale University study say?
A study conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Claus and her colleagues at Yale University has shown that undertaking more number of dental X-rays increases the risk of developing brain tumor. The study involved comparing 1,433 Americans who already had meningiomas, with 1,350 people who never had meningioma. The participants of both the groups were of similar age, sex, and lived in the same city/place. The participants were asked about their dental history, and if they have had bitewing X-rays or panoramic X-ray, and the number of times they had it.
It was found that the participants who had frequent bitewing X-rays were twice as more likely to develop brain tumors or meningiomas, than those who never had bitewing X-rays. Participants who had panorex X-rays, when they were under the age of 10, were 4.9 times more susceptible to develop meningioma. However, only 22 participants had both, panorex X-rays taken and brain tumor.
Many doctors and scientists have expressed mixed views on the study. Prof. Dr. Keith L. Black, Chairman of Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said, “My view is, if an X-ray is necessary for medical treatment, then one should go ahead and get that X-ray.” On talking about the limitations of X-rays, he said, “It’s hard to define a threshold because it’s very complex frequency and dosing equations go into that.” To conclude, he added, “We just need to be more aware of the risk, and try to limit the use.”
How to reduce the risk of radiation
There are some simple ways to avoid overexposure to X-ray radiations.
- Do not undertake regular X-rays if you have no dental problems.
- If you change your dentist, take your previous X-ray reports along with you so that the new dentist doesn’t ask you to take another X-ray.
- Make sure your surgeon uses a collimated X-ray machine.
- If a surgery is suggested to your kid, which includes an X-ray, try to delay the treatment till your kid is 15.
- Keep a record of all the X-rays you have undertaken till date.
Try to reduce the exposure of X-rays, and get one only when required. If your dentist recommends you to get an X-ray, you have the right to ask him if it is really necessary. Talk to him about its apparent risk, and get your doubts cleared.