Dec 1, 2010
Posted in Child Health
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Dental Scan and Cancer Risk in Children



Since kids & adolescent populaces are especially susceptible to radiation, physicians in 2006 started nationwide campaigning for shielding them by lowering radiation to solely that extent deemed an absolute must. This point has been well-taken across several hospital & clinic settings, still the one bustling location where it hasn’t managed to resonate are dental offices.

A latest piece of news appearing in the NY Times uncovered over-usage of novel X- ray technology in pediatric dentistry. It found that majority of the dental scan cases done by specialists are still carried out by using demoded X-ray films needing elevated radiation levels, however those from the field of orthodontics & other experts continue to embrace a novel scanning tool emitting considerably greater amounts of radiation as compared to conventionally done techniques. Created for dental office settings, cone beam CT scanner offers incredible three dimensional dental scan images of tooth, root, jaws & also the cranium. Supporters of such a technology state that it is a risk-free method for those working in the field of orthodontics & oral surgery to get better accuracy & identifying issues which otherwise may have not been noticed. However there are hardly any autonomous studies done for validating such assertions.

Several cone beam scanner devices are capable of emitting four-folds the levels of radiation emitted for every usage as X ray chest – thus exposing children to several hundred folds greater radiation as compared to the rather disputed ‘pornography’ scanning devices installed at airports.  Though there are particular situations wherein the risk is justifiable, still it has been found that the scanner devices are being deployed to screen patients & in other scenarios wherein being additionally exposed to radiation augments risk sans apt gain.

A latest trial appearing in the journal ‘Acta Oncologica’ noted that being exposed to X-rays for getting a dental scan was linked to a doubled risk of developing cancer of the thyroid and risk being directly proportional to augmenting exposure. Even as some studies have noted no apparent link, other researches have linked dental X-ray with augmented risk of developing varied forms of cancers – a link which is not surprising since earlier it has been amply identified to augment risk for cancers.

The FDA & several specialists in pediatric dentistry recommend enquiring about the below mentioned queries for lowering radiation exposure. So, here’s what every parent must be enquiring from the dental specialist.

Is there a clinically significant motive for doing X-rays?

A patient doesn’t have to be that endowed with medical know-how to enquire from their dentist whether the X-ray is truly necessary.

What kind of dental X-ray exam – routinely done X-ray, cone beam CT scanning, panorex exam – would offer the requisite info with the smallest extent of exposure to radiation?

Orthodontists would unquestionably state the requirement of X-ray exam; however this can be attained by a sole   panoramic exam which is capable of showing adequate info in majority of the scenarios for proceeding with orthodontic therapy.

Is the dental specialist using swifter F/E speed film in X-ray?

According to the ADA, the lesser swift D speed film mustn’t be employed since it is capable of delivering nearly sixty per cent greater radiation. However, seventy per cent of dentists are still using it. Employing digital-imaging detector devices rather than film additionally lowers radiation dosage.

In case cone beam CT scanning is needed then are the entire settings amended for minimizing radiation dosage?

According to the AAO, even though cone beam CT scanning might be needed in several scenarios, yet it is not a routine requirement in orthodontics radiography. Prior to consenting to this scanning method all patients should ask their dentist the reason for the scanning. In case he/she answers that it is simply those exams done prior to commencing therapy then it is definitely a red-alert sign to back off.

Is your X-ray exam & dosages being included in your personal records?

Such info must always be shared with the doctor for avoiding unwanted duplications in X-rays. Risks are collective and a person having undergone duo of the analogous dental scans in quick succession would be having around two-folds therisk. The risk doubles in direct proportion to dosage and when one halves the dosage, the risk too reduces by fifty percent.

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