To borrow a term from facebook today we’re doing a #tbt – a “Throwback Thursday” even if it isn’t actually a Thursday! Why? Recently in the news you might have been hearing some information about dental x-rays and the use of the “extra” apron – specifically the one placed across your neck. These discussions have surfaced with reference to more awareness about thyroid cancer and whether or not dental x-rays put you at risk. We first talked about dental x-rays back in 2016 but with this recent news it seemed like now might be a good time to “throwback” to that blog and review everything you need to know about dental x-rays.
First and foremost, as we said then and reiterate today, it goes without saying that the Brinkley Health Care Team takes your overall health and wellness very seriously. Careful consideration is given to the issue anytime we suggest an x-ray may be necessary. As a diagnostic tool they can tell us a great deal about the state of your oral health and while they don’t need to be taken often, there are occasions when they must be utilized.
As a rule, we follow the generally accepted guidelines of dental offices everywhere and these include using x-rays:
- As a baseline when you become a new patient. (If not available from your previous Dentist.)
- To help determine if there are any areas of concern not visible with an oral exam.
- To identify decay between teeth or below the gum line.
- To look for potential bone loss, jaw line concerns or evidence of disease. (This can be particularly true as we age.)
- To identify areas of possible concern for tooth decay and the extent of any decay.
- To examine the size and shape of the mouth and the number of incoming teeth to determine if there is room for each of them.
- To see whether wisdom teeth are forming and/or are impacted.
- These x-rays may also be useful in determining whether orthodontic care is going to be necessary for your child.
- Anytime there is a suspicion of disease or damage.
The issue of thyroid cancer appears to have first come to light back in 2011 when Dr. Oz, a popular daytime TV show host claimed that thyroid cancer risk was the fastest growing cancer amongst women. However, reasons for increased diagnosis are not solely the result of the increased use of diagnostic tools like x-rays and some review of the data suggests that this increase in diagnosis stems more from our ability to now identify other problematic issues that may need treatment but would never have actually resulted in a cancer diagnosis. Additionally, it is also true that thyroid exposure during x-rays, has decreased significantly due to the use of the neck (sometimes called thyroid) shield and the decreased use of x-rays in general. Finally, further information suggests that thyroid cancer is more “likely to develop in people who have been exposed to high doses of radiation,* have a history of thyroid cancer in their family, and are 40 years of age or older. But for the majority of people who develop thyroid cancer, the cause is unknown.”*(1)
At Brinkley Dental we understand your concerns and as we said in 2016, we make every effort to minimize the risk of over exposure and we take every recommended precaution while conducting them. You will find our modern dental practice has up to date machinery, significantly more advanced than even 20 years ago, offering reduced exposure times and other safety measures built in. We welcome your concerns and are happy to have a conversation about them anytime. Book an appointment today with Brinkley Dental in Brampton if you would like to discuss your overall oral health care strategy and as always: ”don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”
*repeated exposure and/or environmental exposure during childhood for example