People who have received more than one dental x-ray a year are twice as
likely to develop a common type of brain tumour, claims a new study,
suggesting that the procedure should be undertaken as less as possible.
A team led by researchers from the Yale University School of
Medicine in the US found that people who reported having more than one
dental x-ray a year were 1.4 times to 1.9 times more likely than those
who did not to have diagnosed with meningioma, a common but potentially
debilitating type of non-cancerous brain tumour.
Individuals who reported receiving these exams when they were
younger than 10 years old had a 4.9 times increased risk of developing
meningioma. “The study highlights the need for increasing awareness
regarding the optimal use of dental X-rays, which unlike many risk
factors, is modifiable,” said lead author Elizabeth Claus, a professor
at Yale and a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
However, she said people should not overreact to their findings.
“Our take home message is don’t panic. Don’t stop going to the dentist.”
According to the researchers, dental x-rays are the most common
synthetic source of exposure to ionising radiation for individuals — the
primary environmental risk factor for developing meningioma. These
tumours grow in the lining inside the skull.
Most are slow growing but they can cause problems if they start to
press on the brain, and they can be lethal.
The study found that over a lifetime, individuals who developed
meningioma were more than twice as likely as those in the control group
to report having received bitewing exams — which use X-ray film held in
between the teeth — yearly or more frequently.
They also found a link between meningioma risk and the panorex
dental exam (which uses an X-ray outside the mouth to develop a single
image of all of the teeth).