Remember how people have come to associate x-rays with cancer? Well, all those debates on whether they are actually true or not have been proved in a recent study which linked the increased exposure to dental x-rays to brain cancer.

Released in the medical journal Cancer, this April 2012 study suggested that people who go through bitewing dental x-rays more frequently than others on a yearly basis have an increased risk of developing meningioma, the most commonly diagnosed cancerous brain tumor in the United States.


The study was comprised of 1,433 people that have been diagnosed with the disease between May 2006 and April 2011. Details were gathered from each of them such as their demographic information and medical history. One particular aspect that was given attention was the amount of dental work each of the respondents received, particularly the number and type of dental x-rays they had.

This study, led by Dr. Elizabeth Claus, professor at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, also followed 1,350 people who have no personal history of brain tumors. Their only connection with the main respondents was that they had the same age, age, and location demographics. This was done for comparison purposes.


Results have shown that those who were diagnosed with meningioma were likely twice to report to have bitewing dental x-rays then the comparison group. Those that had the x-ray at least annually have a 40 to 90 percent of being diagnosed with a brain tumor, whatever the patient’s age is.

Although the researchers focused on the effects of bitewing x-rays, it is important to note that there are actually three types of dental x-rays that dentists in the US use today. Bitewing gives an image on one focused area, full-mouth produces a number of images of the whole mouth, and panorex gives a panoramic image of the entire mouth.


Although the findings in the study suggested that dental x-rays – specifically bitewing x-rays – were dangerous, the experts caution the general public against generality. The American Dental Association released a statement in line with this study saying that “Dental X-rays are valuable in helping dentists detect and treat oral health problems at an early stage. Many oral diseases can’t be detected on the basis of a visual and physical examination alone, and dental X-rays are valuable in providing information about a patient’s oral health such as early-stage cavities, gum diseases, infections or some types of tumors.”


There are quite a number of limitations with the study that needs to be noted. One of which is the fact that the study relied on the memory of the respondents which is not always accurate. Also, the fact that more radiation was used in the past was not considered as well.

Dental x-rays are very important procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of dental problems and issues. Although patients should take caution on the level of radiation exposure that they acquire from this, they should not risk their dental healthy by refusing to go such a procedure.

About the Author:

Amy C. is a lifestyle blogger. She mostly writes about new discoveries and studies that can have an impact in the upkeep of a healthy lifestyle. During her free time, Amy helps in the blogging and administration activities of Greyside Group, a maritime security and executive protection company. To learn more interesting new health information, check out for her next post.