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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Dental X-rays Linked to Brain Tumors

Annual X-rays May Expose Patients to Unnecessary Risk
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Annual Dental X-rays Not Recommended

The American Dental Association responded to the study in a written statement, noting that the group has long called on its members to order dental X-rays only when necessary. To minimize radiation exposure, the group recommends using protective aprons and collars and the use the fastest film speeds available or a digital X-ray.

“Many oral diseases can’t be detected on the basis of a visual and physical examination alone, and dental X-rays are valuable in providing information about a patient’s oral health such as early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections or some types of tumors,” the statement reads.

Claus tells WebMD that the American Dental Association recommends healthy adults receive routine mouth X-rays every two to three years. Dental X-rays are recommended every one to two years for children and every 1.5 to three years for teens. Children often require more X-rays than adults because of their developing teeth and jaws and increased likelihood for cavities.

Neurosurgeon Michael Schulder, MD, agrees that the newly published findings make a good case for limiting the frequency of dental X-rays whenever possible.

Schulder is vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute, which is part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y.

"The chance of these tumors arising in patients who were X-rayed yearly was low," he notes in a news release. "Nonetheless, dentists and their patients should strongly consider obtaining X-rays less often than yearly unless symptoms suggest the need for imaging."

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