Fact or Myth: Can Dental X-Rays Cause Cancer?

This is a FACT.

Whether you visit your dentist once every three months, six months, or a year, chances are high that you’re going to be bullied into getting yet another set of x-rays…that you probably don’t need! The journal Cancer reports that dental x-rays more than double your risk of brain cancer! We’ve got the findings below, and the answer to the pertinent question, “how often should you get dental x-rays?”

X-ray photographyThe Number One Risk Factor for Brain Cancer

Meningioma is a type of brain cancer that impacts the membranes that envelop your brain. The number one risk factor for this type of brain cancer is ionising radiation. What’s the main culprit of ionising radiation? Dental x-rays!

Radiation infiltrates your cells and injures your DNA. The damage accumulates over time, and impaired DNA strands can lead to gene mutation and the development of cancer.

In 2012, scientists determined just how much dental x-rays contribute to your risk of meningioma brain cancer. The results are alarming:

  • Bitewings x-rays that show your upper and lower back teeth taken less than once a year raise brain cancer risk by 110-160%
  • Panorex x-rays that show all your teeth and the surrounding bones taken at least once a year raise your brain cancer risk by 270-300%
  • Dental x-rays taken before age 10 increase your odds of developing brain cancer by almost 500%!

Dental x-rays can cause cancer by as much as a 4.9 ratio, according to the last statistic!

How Often Should You Get Dental X-Rays?

According to the admission of the American Dental Association (ADA), there’s very little evidence to support the use of x-rays in finding or helping to prevent dental disease. ADA guidelines recommend that dentists take bitewing x-rays no more than once every two to three years if the patient is otherwise healthy. The ADA also states that there is little reason to x-ray a patient who isn’t exhibiting any symptoms of dental disease.

Despite ADA guidelines, most dentists are x-ray zealous and want to plop you down in the x-ray chair at every cleaning. It is your right to say, “no thank you.” Chances are, the dental hygenist or office manager will give you attitude. Ignore them. Unless you are exhibiting symptoms, stand your ground against the unnecessary radiation. Dental x-rays are a nice source of extra income, which is perhaps why dentists are so insistent when it comes to zapping you with radiation. You might try to remind them of the ADA’s guidelines, asking them if they are aware that once every three years is the standard for healthy teeth and gums.