Monday, July 25, 2016
You don't need the X-rays
I just read a New York Times article about bite wing X-rays at the dentist's office. The article said that dentists tend to overuse them. According to the American Dental Association, you only need them every 2-3 years unless you are unusually susceptible to cavities or gum disease. My dentist does them every 6 months! I turned them down when I was pregnant. The level of radiation in a bite wing x-ray is relatively low, but the effects of radiation are cumulative, so each x-ray is an unnecessary risk, increasing the chances of cancer down the road. Brain tumors are more prevalent in those who have frequent bite wing x-rays. This was all very interesting to me because my mother always asked for fewer x-rays for me. My Massachusetts dentist said, "You would get more radiation walking through Danvers Square." Turns out he was wrong...what matters is the cumulative effect, not the level of the individual dose. My mom was right.