Family Care Dental Clinic strictly follows the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle, only prescribing dental X-rays when the benefits of the diagnostic procedure outweigh the relative health risks to the patient. Also, we closely follow any additional safety procedures, such as the use of dosimeter badges and lead aprons.
An article in this week’s Georgia Straight raised questions related to radiation safety of dental X-rays.
The article references a 2012 study Dental X-Rays and Risk of Meningioma, published in the journal Cancer by the American Cancer Society. The study relates past recollections of X-ray exposures of patients diagnosed with meningioma tumours. Several reputable professional organizations and experts have weighed in on the study’s findings and questioned its validity, noting:
- Current dosages of radiation are less today than they were when the study participants were children.
- Study data was self-reported by patients (remembering how many bitewing x-rays they received as kids).
The BCDA has posted a downloadable statement on its public website to advise patients on dental x-ray safety under dental health/dental health topics. Please click here to view/download said statement.
BCDA key messages
Q. Is there reason for alarm?
- No, the amount of exposure to radiation through dental X-rays is among the lowest of any diagnostic radiologic procedure. Evidence suggests that new technology, such as the use of digital X-rays, continues to reduce the amount of exposure per X-ray.
Q. Why do dentists need X-rays?
- BC dentists are committed to the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle when it comes to radiation exposure for patients and dental staff.
- Dental X-rays are a valuable diagnostic tool used to help dentists confirm a diagnosis or identify disease in theteeth and surrounding tissues that may be visible.
- The frequency of use should be assessed on a case-by-case basis depending on a number of factors, such aspatient’s oral health, age, and health history.
- Dentists examine the risks and benefits to the patient associated with the use of dental X-rays based on the patient’s oral health, age and health history.
Q. Is it safe for kids to have X-rays?
- It is not recommended for any patient to receive bitewing X-rays at every visit, or on a scheduled basis, unless there is a clinical reason to do so in the professional opinion of the dentist. The cohort “children under the age of 10” was highlighted in the original research study that led to the media reports, and alarmed some parents.
- Children may be susceptible to early childhood caries and if evidence suggests the presence of decay, a dentist may use an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
- Dental X-rays may be used on older children to assess the development of the jaw and the development of permanent teeth below the gum line.
Q. Can I refuse X-rays from my dentist?
- The BCDA recommends that all patients have a dental exam by a dentist as least once per year. This exam may or may not include X-rays.
- The BCDA encourages patients to discuss all their treatment needs, including the use of X-rays, with their dentists.
- Dental X-rays are a valuable diagnostic tool used to help dentists confirm a diagnosis or identify disease in the teeth and surrounding tissues that may not be visible.
- The frequency of use of X-rays should be assessed on a case-by-case basis depending on the patient’s oral health, age, and health history.
If you receive a media call related to this issue, please use the messages above, or direct the reporter to the BCDA at 604 736 7202, attention Susan Boyd.