Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dental X-rays and Mengioma (Brain Tumors) Crystal Lake Dentist

Do Dental X-rays cause Minengioma as stated in the press?

This question troubles me due to the sensational nature of the media. I will present the facts first .I will answer that question by the end of this article. A cancer or tumor claimed to be caused by a common procedure is highly newsworthy. It needs to be looked at carefully before jumping to a conclusion that can cause mass hysteria.

What is a Minengioma?

It is a thickening of the of the brain sac. (a lining covering the brain). Minengiomas are a class of growths with varying properties. They are almost always benign and extremely slow growing.

Are Minengiomas common?
Yes, they are fairly common in all populations worldwide (even where dental x-rays are never taken). These tumors are rarely detected until autopsy as an incidental finding (not the cause of death). Actually they are discovered in  at a rate of about 1-2% worldwide during routine autopsy. This high incidence coupled with a low incidence of symptoms and disability/death is important to note.

So is a Minengioma dangerous?
Very few are dangerous. In most cases once discovered they are observed to see how fast they change. If slow growing and symptomless, they are not even treated. If the Minengioma is causing symptoms, then treatment is instituted.

How are Minengiomas diagnosed and treated?
Most often Minengiomas are found on CAT scans (an x-ray),b or MRI’s or  other heat x-ray images. Treatment interestingly is often done non-invasively with radiation. In some cases surgery is used in conjunction with radiation or alone.

Can Minengiomas recur?
Rarely they will recur. The very rare more aggressive form is more likely to recur.

Are dental x-rays dangerous?
Modern x-rays are extremely safe. Any form of radiation can cause changes to tissue. The more radiation, the more likely this will happen. As a result of this knowledge, healthcare providers and manufacturers have been developing products and methods to reduce radiation for the past 60 years. Methods developed includes faster film which needed lower x-ray doses to create a picture.
 Here is a brief history of intraoral dental x-ray film
1913 x-ray film is put in packets and used to check teeth.
1940  D-speed film (Ultraspeed ) developed
1980 E-speed film (Ektaspeed) developed
1982 digital intraoral sensors developed
Crystal Lake Dental Associates have been using low dose digital x-rays since 2000

Dental x-rays are also extraoral
1948 panoramic x-ray developed
panoramic x-ray

1976 digital computed tomography developed
2000 digital cone beam computed tomography developed
Cone Beam 3D imaging Low Dose

Dental x-ray machines have also underdone changes over time
Early 1900’s dental x-ray machines become available
Early Dental X-ray Machines

Dental x-ray machines evolve over the next 50 years with little improvement in safety
1960's Style dental Office

1970’s lead collimation of the x-ray beam is developed to reduce scatter radiation.
Safety for patients has additionally evolved by the use of lead apron and thyroid barriers.
X-rays are much safer today due to the use of digital sensors and superfast film.

Who is most susceptible to damage from x-rays?
Children seem to have a higher risk from radiation as they are still growing, and radiation damage is a lifelong cumulative process.

Is there a risk of Minengioma from dental x-rays today?
We need to first consider the risk-benefit ratio of a dental x-ray. The risk is extremely low compared to the benefit of the timely and successful treatments for various dental conditions. When considering the current  state of dental radiographic techniques and devices, the risk seems nominal. I personally would not hesitate in exposing any members of my own family when determining their dental health

What do you mean about risk-benefit ratio of dental x-rays?
Dental caries (tooth decay or cavities) and periodontal disease are 2 of the most common and debilitating diseases around. the cost of treating both diseases is billions of dollars annually. Early detection and treatment of these and other oral conditions saves time from work school and other activities , pain and money. Dental x-rays are an important part of prevention and treatment of these and other oral conditions. You are thousands of times  more likely to suffer from a dental problem than a Minengioma.

 Complications from dental problems can be life threatening.

Abscessed tooth

Periodontal Disease
Progression of a cavity to abscessed tooth
I have enclosed a link to a blog response to the recent press article on Brain Cancer and dental x-rays. You can view it here and comment.

PS I am still learning how to use the HDC mail system so I apologize in advance for any multiple mailings.
Phillip C. Neal DDS


Impacted wisdom tooth

Undiagnosed dental problem leading to massive infection

What about the Study quoted in the press?
The study quoted recently and other studies have an inconsistent set of conclusions. Dental x-rays have undergone a great deal of improvement over the lifetime of several of the people surveyed. As a result the patients surveyed are not representative of the average patient in a modern dental office. If you read the entirely article, conclusions drawn are inconsistent with the amount of x-ray exposure reported. Using memory of people over a large period of time will also lead to inaccuracies as noted. In conclusion the doctor did not recommend that patients refuse necessary x-rays. The subject however could benefit from  further study. 

Dr. Neal answers all of your questions about dental x-rays at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

Your comments are welcome 


  1. Great post! Seems dental care is more important than avoiding the dentist for fear of a benign and common tumor. dentist palatine

  2. Thanks for the comment. You are right.
    Dr Neal

  3. Really very informative and the way you presented your information attracts visitors to read more informative blogs from your website. So I kindly look forward to see next updates.


  4. Thank YOU for the encouraging words.

    Dr. Neal

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  7. Thanks all for visiting and the kind words... Have a great day.
    Phillip C. Neal DDS

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  9. Thank you for visiting,,,have a great day!
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About Me

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Born in the Midwest. Married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Attended Maine West High School, Harper Jr College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Practice in Crystal Lake, Illinois.