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Hereford Dental Health Blog
This blog is where we will post new information that is relevant to our valued patients. You will find information about a variety of topics, from dental health updates to information about our practice. We will keep this updated with topics about new services, technologies and special offers so our patients can stay informed. We hope you will include this page in your "favorites" and check back occasionally to see what's new.
There has been a lot of hype in the media recently with regards to dental x-rays and meningioma (i.e. a tumor in the lining tissue of the brain). While it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of information available to us through the Washington Post, ABC news, Fox news, etc., there are important pieces of information to keep in mind before jumping to the conclusion that dental x-rays do more damage than benefit.
After a study was published online in April 2012 by the Cancer journal, most media outlets ran exposés of the links between dental xrays and the mostly benign (non-cancerous) meningioma tumor. They all sited the Cancer study when saying that “patients with meningiomas were more than twice as likely to report having had frequent focused dental x-rays known as bitewings. Panoramic x-rays of the whole mouth done at a young age raised the risk up to five times” (Siegel, 2012).
The reality of the matter is that, while there may have been a link found between dental x-rays and this particular brain tumor, it is just one potential link; dental x-rays have not been found to cause brain tumors. In fact, Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society stated, “we need more data before we can begin to state there is a relationship between dental x-rays and these tumors. Until that research is done, the best advice we can give people is to get dental x-rays when they are necessary…” (Simon, 2012).
There are a number of other things to consider before making a rash decision to refuse dental x-rays at your next visit, including the number of shortcomings with the actual conduction of the Cancer study. For starters, the study relied on participants’ memories of their history of dental x-rays, rather than dental records, and such studies are subject to a phenomenon known to scientists as “recall bias”, i.e. when people with a disease look for a cause. This may have caused the meningioma patients of the Cancer study to over-report the number of dental x-rays they received, which could have skewed the findings. Also, the study acknowledges that some of the subjects received dental x-rays decades ago when radiation exposure was greater. Radiation rates were higher in the past due to the use of old x-ray technology and slower speed film (Huget, 2012).
Now I want you to consider the amount of radiation exposure dental x-rays contribute to your overall daily limit. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) allows for 50 mVp’s of radiation exposure each year. Our digital images are .2 mVp’s and our panorex machine is equivalent to Cancerstudy said, “don’t panic – don’t stop seeing the dentist- but do look at the (ADA) guidelines and discuss them with your dentist” (Simon, 2012). Ultimately, we want to do what we can to protect your total health, both in and out of the office.
Huget, J. L. (2012, April 10). Study links dental X-rays to brain tumor risk. Retrieved May 14, 2012 from Thewashingtonpost.com. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-checkup/post/study-links-dental-x-rays-to-brain-tumor-risk/2012/04/09/gIQALz8k6S_blog.html
Siegel, D.M. (2012, April 16). Dental x-rays and brain tumors: Don’t drop the dentist yet. Retrieved May 14, 2012 from FoxNews.com. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/04/16/dental-x-rays-and-brain-tumors-dont-drop-dentist-just-yet/
Simon, S. (2012, April 10). Study Examines Possible Link Between Dental X-Rays and Meningioma Risk. Retrived May 14, 2012 from the American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/news/News/study-examines-possible-link-between-dental-x-rays-and-meningioma-risk
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But it is still Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Last week was a big success and we are happy to say we had many happy patients. I encourage everyone to continue to spread the word about oral cancer so that we may start increasing early detection.
We are all aware of the traditional forms of tobacco. But emerging tobacco products in the forms of dissolvable orbs, sticks and strips provide nicotine without the spit or second hand smoke. The reduction of second hand smoke is great but there is a lack of research which makes the dental community very concerned. These dissolvable forms of nicotine still contain carcinogens and should only be used as cessation products. They can be highly addictive and easily to hide and use.
For many years the profile of an at-risk patient for oral cancer was a male smoker over the age of 40. But now, their is a group of individuals who’s cancer rate is increasing faster than the old model and it has everyone concerned. Oral and head and neck cancer is increasing in men and women in their 20′s and 30′s. The cause is HPV. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that infects about 40 million Americans. Epithelial cells in the oral cavity are identical to those in the cervix. Women with a positive annual PAP can be screened for this factor correlating their risk with oral cancer. Additionally, their sexual partners should be screened. It is also know that alcohol and tobacco actually promote the invasion of HPV into the oral tissues.
Early detection is the key. It increases the survival rate dramatically. Our protocol is that upon every re-care appointment we complete a visual and tactile exam. Once a year we recommend an adjunct exam with our Velscope. (more to come on this, but if you can’t wait please visit http://www.velscope.com/default.aspx?id=0&cat=patients)
To honor Oral Cancer Awareness Week our team at Hereford Dental Health will provide complimentary advanced screenings to all our regularly scheduled patients and non patients. Oral Cancer screenings are a routine part of our everyday patient experience. We want to accommodate everyone interested in a FREE Oral Cancer screening. Our team has set aside a special time so call today!
In the weeks to come we will be posting more information on oral cancer and why it is too important not to pay attention to. If you can’t wait for us to post please go to www.oralcancerfoundation.org