Dental Exam – Image from Shutterstock
A new study in the US journal Cancer showed that people who report having a yearly bitewing exam, otherwise known as a typical dental X-ray are 1.4 times to 1.9 times as likely as a other people to develop a meningioma brain tumor. This isn’t the first time that ionizing radiation has been identified as a potentially modifiable risk factor for meningioma, which is the most frequently reported primary brain tumor in the United States. Because dental X-rays are the most common artificial source of ionizing radiation, they may pose a significant risk when it comes to brain tumors. The researchers note that exposure to some dental X-rays of the past, which resulted in greater radiation exposure than X-rays today, are more to blame for the rise in brain tumors, but overall, this research also shows that you’d be wise to avoid excessive and unnecessary exposure to artificial ionizing radiation. Especially since in many cases, this is a totally modifiable risk factor. You can discuss alternative X-ray schedules with your dentist and keep your teeth healthy by brushing and flossing to help avoid unnecessary treatments, including extra X-rays.