One of the tools that ushered dentistry out of the Dark Ages a century ago was the advent of x-ray technology. No longer was a visual inspection of a patient’s mouth good enough. Squint your all you want, doc, you’re still not going to find underlying problems. All of a sudden, dentists were equipped with the ability to accurately discover and diagnose dental, periodontal and other oral diseases.
And now, with the advent of digital x-rays, we can capture a number of different views of a tooth with an image quality that is unmatched, thus gaining an even better understanding of potential problems and the ability to prescribe a proper course of action.
So imagine my disappointment when Dr. Mehmet Oz, the popular syndicated television doctor, contributed his two-cents worth on air about the potential dangers of x-rays to our patients. This cardiothoracic surgeon and self-proclaimed protector of our nation’s health went on national TV to persuade viewers that the practice of using dental x-rays to check the condition of teeth is overused and not all that necessary, and even went so far as to suggest that dental x-rays may be linked to Thyroid Cancer (the fact that a gynecological cancer specialist appeared in the segment and said she would not get dental x-rays to check the condition of her teeth, only exacerbated the claim). Dr. Oz also mentioned the need for protective thoracic shielding, saying most dentists either don’t offer such protection or make the patient ask for the collar.
Every few years, someone comes along to stir up confusion over the need for dental radiographs (x-rays). For years some patients have refused x-rays due to fear of cumulative exposure. This most recent attack from an Oprah-inspired surgeon is just the latest in a series of dental delirium.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re a big fan of educating the public about health issues, and we think, in general, that Dr. Oz does a good job. We’ve even read through a couple of his “You” books. But when it comes to the safety of x-rays in the dentist’s office, the good television doctor is way off base.
As a result of the doctor’s program, and patient inquiries, we did some additional research and here’s what we found. If we examine various activities, dental x-rays give off the least amount of radiation.
For example: Continue Reading »