Dentists Weigh In on the Dental X-ray and Brain Tumor Debate

More Dentists Weigh In on the Dental X-ray and Brain Tumor DebateGiven the recent negative publicity surrounding dental X-rays and brain tumors, our recent The Wealthy Dentist survey covered whether dental practices will change how they use X-rays.

We asked:

“According to a recent study, dental X-rays may be linked with brain tumors. Will this news change how your practice uses X-rays?”

Here’s how dentists responded:

  • 66%: Definitely no!
  • 25%: Not at this point, although this study has led us to consider it.
  • 9%: Yes, we will be changing our X-ray protocols.

Two thirds of dentists debated the validity of the data. Urban dentists over rural dentists were the most vocal about their skepticism in this survey.

“This study is highly flawed. The number of cancers per population is so small. You could die from an abscess more than your chance of getting this cancer. I read there are 5000 cancers per 350 million people?”

But some dentists did take the X-ray study into consideration —

“We will take this opportunity to reinforce our office position as an industry leader in all phases of patient safety.” (General dentist)

“It’s quite possible, some correlation between brain tumors and old ways to take X-rays. Let’s don’t forget we went from regular films to high speed to a digital generation decreasing every time the amount of radiation.” (Florida dentist)

“We use digital X-rays and take updated X-rays only when necessary.” (Ohio dentist)

“We are using digital radiographs and feel that we do everything possible to minimize unnecessary exposure.” (Texas dentist)

“I believe we have to make the right choices for our patients: how often – how many medical conditions. We also have to look at our society and what devices we use on a regular basis: cell phones, microwaves, electric blankets, TVs, air plane flights, not to mention our landfills loaded with hazardous materials. With technology comes risks but also life-saving devices and techniques.” (Massachusetts dentist)

“We decided on digital films prior to this announcement.” (General dentist)

IF the study is correct, it will certainly affect the number of radiographs a dentist will record.” (Pediatric dentist)

“We’ve been doing the 18 mos to 2 yrs for many years. Only a select few of our dental patients require more frequent radiographic diagnosis.” (Arizona dentist)

“Further thoughts, yes, on this study that was flawed in concept.” (Oklahoma dentist)

“I’ve used a digital sensor for over a dozen years and have always been ultra-conservative in ordering X-rays based on the dental patient’s current and past oral conditions, not on a fixed timetable.” (Illinois dentist)

“We already stretch the limits on our X-rays and consider the history of the patient in doing so.” (California dentist)

“We are empowering our clinical team with information so that they may respond to concerns from patients. We also posted our rebuttal on our Website and Facebook page. We preform x-rays annually and/or on as needed basis.” (West Virginia dentist)

“Should always practice conservatively and limit taking dental (or chest) X-rays to the minimum at all times. I do not agree with taking X-rays ROUTINELY. (California dentist)

251 dentists responded to this survey by The Wealthy Dentist. To hear what the more agitated dentists had to say about the dental X-ray and brain tumor debate, see last week’s article, Dentists React To Dental X-ray Brain Tumor Study as Flawed Science.

What are your thoughts on the dental X-ray and brain cancer debate?

Dentists React To Dental X-ray Brain Tumor Study as Flawed Science

Dentists React To Dental X-Ray Brain Tumor Study as Flawed ScienceIn a recent article in the journal Cancer, the American Cancer Society published study findings linking dental patients who had dental X-rays in the past with a certain type of brain tumor.

The Wealthy Dentist decided to conduct a survey asking dentists if the findings and news reports would change how their practices use X-rays.

“No!” remarked one dentist, “The cancer study shows the ignorance of a biased uncontrolled study and how to increase needless fear in our dental patients. Intellectual idiots for neurosurgeons.”

66% of the dentist respondents answered no to making changes based on the report, while 9% answered yes. 25% are watching the study closely and taking it into consideration.

Most of the dentists tend to believe the study is flawed “nonsense” and have quite a bit to say about the subject.

Here are some of the comments from dentists:

“The study is very flawed. It has no hard proof. It inferred that it was do to radiographs taken a number of years ago when exposures were much higher than today’s digital images. Another example of the media not telling the whole story and sensationalism at its best.” (Michigan dentist)

“Those who reported on it must have a brain tumor! What about risk of not X-raying and the benefit of treatment? What about cell phone, color monitors, flying radiation — not to mention medical ct, chest X-ray, mammograms, ultrasounds, fluoroscopes etc.?” (Illinois dentist)

“The report was more hearsay than science. Let’s have some good double-blind, peer review studies.” (California dentist)

How much more destructive can a bogus study be to the profession? This has been supposed for years. Yet, how can other factors be excluded? Radiation from airline travel? Radiation from other sources? Genetic predisposition? Seriously? You would think researchers from Yale, of all places, would be more responsible!” (Arizona orthodontist)

“Yesterday, I already had a patient deny X-rays due to this article. Let’s publish going to the dentist causes tumors, cancer from fluoride, and blood problems from amalgams. Put us all out of business so we can join the Obama handout brigade, pay no taxes, and let the country and all its liberal thinkers rot away with rotten teeth!” (General dentist)

“It appears to be questionable science. I’ll wait for more studies.” (Texas dentist)

“It took over ten years for things to settle down after Ralph Nader’s mouthing off about things he knew nothing about. I think this neurosurgeon was irresponsible. Look up the tumor in your pathology text book. There is a lot more to this. X-rays are a theory as per the cause. The tumor in question has a progesterone receptor, so pregnancy is an issue.” (Virginia dentist)

“Has there been a similar study on television exposure? How about computer monitors, or maybe the sun? Life is full of cost-benefit decisions. After 32 years in practice I haven’t had a patient with a brain tumor. Four bite wings every year and a pan every five years causing brain tumors? How do you do a study where the only exposure to radiation is from dental radiographs, if radiation is all around us?” (General dentist)

This study is flawed by design. He relies on peoples’ recollection of facts, which has long been shown to be inaccurate. In addition, cancer takes 20 years to develop, and the equipment used 20 years ago is long gone. Radiation levels with digital radiography are much much lower. The benefits of radiology outweigh any possible risks.” (New York prosthodontist)

“The study is so poorly designed as to be laughable. Unfortunately the press got hold of it and presented as if it were real–sells corn flake ads I guess!” (Washington dentist)

“From what I’ve seen, this study was very poorly done, relying solely on patient’s recollection of specific x-rays taken and when. Most dentists know that their patients can’t remember what they had taken, when, or by whom. How can BW’s be a problem, but FMX isn’t? I’ll wait for a real study to be done.” (General dentist)

Of the small percentage of dentists that are taking the study into consideration, several plan to use the study as an opportunity to raise dental patient awareness about the types of X-rays they now use and the safety of digital radiography.

All the dentists agreed that dental patients have nothing to fear.

Dental Care: Do Dental X-Rays Cause Brain Tumors?

Dental Care: Do Dental X-Rays Cause Brain Tumors?Last week the American Cancer Society published Yale University research findings that dental patients who received frequent dental X-rays a generation ago, are at greater risk for developing meningioma, a non-cancerous brain tumor.

The Yale study involved more than 1,400 dental patients from around the U.S. who were diagnosed with the non-cancerous tumor. The study also tracked a similar group of dental patients who did not have a meningioma.

What the Yale researchers discovered is that patients with meningioma were twice as likely to have had dental X-ray exams where they bit down on a tab of X-ray film at least once a year when they were children.

An even greater link was discovered between meningioma and the single X-ray outside of the mouth. Dental patients who had the panorex dental exam when they were younger than 10-years-old had almost five times greater the risk for meningioma.

Since the research publication dentists have found themselves on the defensive regarding dental X-rays.

The American Dental Association released a statement on the study asserting the following, “The ADA has reviewed the study and notes that the results rely on the individuals’ memories of having dental X-rays taken years earlier. Studies have shown that the ability to recall information is often imperfect. Therefore, the results of studies that use this design can be unreliable because they are affected by what scientists call ‘recall bias.'”

In the ADA statement, Dr. Alan G. Lurie, a radiation biologist and head of radiology at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, voiced concerns about the study’s design and outcomes. “I think it’s a very flawed study,” said Dr. Lurie, who is also president of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology.

He characterized at least one outcome of the study—reflected in a table that related meningioma risk to types of dental X-ray examination—as “biologically impossible.”

Said Dr. Lurie, “They have a table, Table 2, in which they ask the question, `Ever had a bitewing,’ and the odds ratio risk from a bitewing ranges from 1.2 to 2.0, depending on the age group. Then they asked ‘Ever had full mouth’ series, and the odds ratio risk from a full mouth series ranged from 1.0 to 1.2.

“That’s biologically not possible because the full mouth series has two to four bitewings plus another 10 to 16 periapicals. A full mouth series, just to round things off, is 20 intraoral X-rays of which two to four are bitewings. They are showing that one bitewing has 50 to 100 percent greater risk than a full mouth series that has multiple bitewings plus a bunch of other films. That’s biologically not possible.”

Explaining this gross internal discrepancy is difficult, as the epidemiologic and statistical methods are widely accepted, Dr. Lurie said. He attributes the perceived discrepancy in the data to possible recall bias in the patients involved in the study.

“Epidemiologists are very aware of this bias,” Dr. Lurie said. “What happens is you’re asking people to remember what kind of dental X-rays they had 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago. It’s anecdotal, and the argument is that it’s just as anecdotal for the group without meningiomas as it is for the group with meningiomas. That is not necessarily true.”

In this week’s survey, The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists if the news reports will change how their dental practice uses X-rays. We are curious what dentists think about the study and if any patients are calling dental practices questioning X-rays.

To take part in the survey, click here, or leave us a comment and tell us your thoughts on dental X-rays and this study.

For more on this study see: ADA Releases Statement on Dental X-rays Study

Dentist’s Suitcase Contains Bomb! (Or Else a Dental Exam Kit)

Airport Security Suspicious of Bags with Wires Sticking Out

“Orange alert” turned bright red at the Cincinnati airport recently. The hazmat team rushed to the airport, meeting up with the bomb squad there.

A ramp agent raised the alarm after spotting a suspicious-looking backpack with wires sticking out of it.

The bag was traced back to a dentist from Ecuador. Though he had been traveling on Delta, the bag itself had somehow ended up with Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airline.

Talk about a false alarm! It turned out to be nothing more than a portable dental examination kit.

Read more


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