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Dental X-rays in Childhood Linked to Increased Risk of Brain Tumor

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Although your dentist may advocate for you to have a yearly X-ray starting in childhood, experts are saying it's not such a good idea afterall. According to researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, early X-rays are linked to an increased risk of the most common brain tumor in adulthood. To reduce the risk, the researchers suggest that dentists forego yearly X-rays, especially for young patients, who don't exhibit symptoms of gum or tooth problems.

Dr. Elizabeth B. Claus, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Medicine and at the Brigham and Women's Hospital led the new study. According to Claus and her colleagues, having once yearly or frequent bitewing X-rays (or where a patient holds a piece of film bewteen the teeth) was linked to a 1.4 to 1.9 increase in the risk of developing meningiomas–the most common type of brain tumor. Furthermore, a panaramic X-ray that swivels around the skull to capture a view of all the teeth quintupled the risk of developing a brain tumor if performed before a child's 10th birthday.

After reviewing the new research, the American Dental Association re-issued its statement that dentists should only perform X-rays when necessary for diagnosis or treatment. The ADA currently recommends that dentists perform X-rays on children every 1-2 years and every 2-3 years for healthy adults.

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  1. Lindsay says:
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    While research shows that x-ray radiation may be harmful, we really do not know the extent of it. X-rays are important for diagnosing conditions that may not be evident on the surface and are a vital part of oral and overall health. While they should be taken prudently, and only when necessary, you may be compromising your health to avoid taking them all together.