Certain Number of Dental X-Rays Increases Thyroid Cancer Risk

Over the past three decades, the number of thyroid cancer patients has doubled, and scientists say that the important facts such as the dangers posed by the dental X-rays might have been neglected. Several specialists agree that dental X-rays should be prescribed only in cases when patients do have a specific clinical need to take this examination.

Unfortunately, the dental X-rays are made available extremely easily, when the patient signs up with a new dentist or even as part of a regular checkup. Normally, a routine dental checkup does not always require dental X-rays examinations.

Researchers also say that when a dental X-ray examination is performed, the patient’s most important hormone releasing gland, the thyroid, should be properly protected with bibs or special collars. While conducting their research on this topic, the specialists interrogated as many as 313 thyroid cancer patients about the approximate number of dental X-rays they have taken. Then, they also asked just as many healthy patients about the number of X-rays they have taken at the dentist.

Researchers found that subjects who have taken between 2 and 4 dental X-rays, were twice as likely to develop cancer than people who never got such X-rays. Findings also point out that patients who have taken between 5 and 9 X-rays are exposed to a four times higher risk of developing the disease than patients who were never subjected to this type of examination.

The greatest danger of developing thyroid cancer is present in the case of patients who have taken 10+ dental X-rays – their risk is 6 times higher than in the case of patients who never got dental –rays. This particular research has been based mainly on recollection of the patients regarding the number of dental X-rays they have taken.

Even like this, the findings are quite important, and specialists say there will be definitely needed a much more thorough research where exact data will be taken into account (such as checking the number of dental X-rays based on the dental records of the patients, the approximate dosage at the time of exposure, the age of the patient, etc.).

This research has been carried out with experts coming from universities in Kuwait and Cambridge, and many UK specialists argue that the results might easily be called inconclusive or rather incorrect. In Kuwait, the number of thyroid cancer patients is much higher than in the UK, plus in the researchers did not take into account the exact type of X-rays equipment used when collecting data for the research. UK specialists say loud and clear that with today’s technology the radiation exposure while taking a dental X-ray is extremely small (not dangerous).

Dental specialists say that in the diagnosis of dental disease, the X-rays are always necessary, but for protection/prevention purposes the number of in office taken dental X-rays should be minimized (used only when necessary, not as part routine checkups every six months).