PlanmecaUSA responds to study linking dental x-rays to cancer

May 2, 2012

Issue 5

As the dental industry converges in Anaheim, CA this week for the California Dental Association meeting, many dentists will be seeking ways to reduce their patient’s exposure to radiation from dental x-rays.

As the dental industry converges in Anaheim, CA this week for the California Dental Association meeting, many dentists will be seeking ways to reduce their patient’s exposure to radiation from dental x-rays.

A controversial study published in the April issue of the American Cancer Association Journal  found an association between frequent dental x-rays and an increased risk for cancer. The study builds on a non-scientific, and equally controversial article in a 2012 New York Times article that implicated 3D cone beam imaging technology will cause cancer as well.

Taken together, the studies have forced many dentists to answer new questions about dental x-rays they thought had been put to rest.

Some dental imaging companies, like PlanmecaUSA, Inc, Roselle, IL, have many safeguards engineered in all of its imaging units to reduce the risk of cancer associated with radiation.

According to PlanmecaUSA dental consultant Eugene Antenucci, DDS, Huntington, N.Y., these studies provide an opportunity for dentists to turn a negative situation into a positive one with their patients by building a more trusting relationship with them.

Antenucci and PlanmecaUSA encourages dental patients or parents of young patients to ask their dental care providers the following questions about dental x-rays:

  • Why do I need to have this test which involves ionizing radiation?

  • What are the potential benefits?

  • Are there alternatives?

  • What is the dose in relation to background radiation (something understandable)?

  • What are my risks if I don't have this test?

  • Would you personally have this x-ray taken now? How often would you have it taken? (as the doctor)

  • What type of technology are you using to take my x-rays?

Antenucci encouraged dentists to look for 3D imaging units with built-in safety measures that focus on using the least amount of radiation to achieve the best results possible. This commitment to “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” or the ALARA radiation principle, keeps both dentist and patient safety a priority.   

Antenucci encourages his colleagues to look for units that have x-ray aperture controls that constrict the beam of radiation to target and radiate only the site of interest. Finally, higher end, sophisticated units employ robotic arms that allow for precise imaging anywhere in the maxillofacial/cranial region and wide volume controls that allow dentists to image only the area of concern.

“This means there is no need to take an image of the entire head if only a single tooth site needs to be visualized,” Antenucci said.