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Dental X-Rays and Brain Tumors

To say the least, you should be well informed and prepared for questions/comments from your patients.  For many years patients have already been reluctant to accept x-rays.  That will almost certainly get worse now.  Arguing with your patients will accomplish little of a positive nature.  Just stick with the facts.  If you at least view the videos and read the information contained in the links below, especially the actual paper that caused the uproar, you’ll be more informed than the average person.


To me, the basic points are:

1. Study participants averaged 57 years old and were asked to remember how many x-rays they received as kids before age 10.  That’s a stretch for believability – remembering details from 47 or more years ago.

2. 47 plus years ago, x-ray technology was vastly different from today.  When I was a kid, I probably got 100 times more harmful radiation from x-rays than kids (or adults) today.

3. The types of tumors that this MIGHT CAUSE are a non-malignant type (won’t spread in the brain).

4. Statistics show about 5,000 of this type tumor diagnosed each year in the U.S.  In a country of over 310 million people, 5,000 is a pretty low number.  And there are almost certainly many other causes other than dental x-rays.  Granted, every brain tumor is serious, particularly to the person with the tumor and his/her loved ones, and the topic must be approached appropriately.



  • Link to the NBC news story and 2 videos from TV news broadcasts (first video, from NBC’s Today Show, starts after short commercial – second video, from the NBC Nightly News, follows after another commercial).


NOTE: You can also find stories on CNN, CBS, Fox, Reuters, ABC, WebMD — basically everywhere.  When I searched Google for brain tumor + dental x-rays, it reported “about 74,400,000 results”.  If your patients aren’t aware of this “news story”, they might already be brain dead.



  • Link to ADA press statement released after the news stories ran.



  • Link to response from the American Cancer Society.


You might want to print out the American Cancer Society piece and have it handy when a patient mentions the news story and/or tells you they don’t want X-rays taken.



  • Lastly, here is the link to the actual journal Cancer article by Dr. Elizabeth Claus and others.


Pay particular attention to the CONCLUSIONS statement in the opening summary.