Just the facts, ma’am
Dr. Oz is a very popular and charismatic television presence – and no doubt he delivers many points of view about medical matters that are valuable to his viewers.
But I can assure you that his recent show on dental x-rays and cancer isn’t one of them.
The first problem is that the program based its information on the amount of radiation produced by the old fashioned traditional x-rays, not modern day advanced digital x-rays. In addition, the “study” was a very small sampling of people in Kuwait and the report of this study itself says their study “should be treated with caution because data was based on self-reporting by the participants. Comprehensive historical dental x-ray records were not available from the clinics.” This means that a small number of people with no dental knowledge were asked to remember the number and types of x-rays and when they had them taken in their past. They knew nothing about the actual number of x-rays taken, the dose of radiation per x-ray, the speed of film, the quality of the machines used or if any protective barriers were used, among other important details. On top of all of that, Kuwait has an abnormally high incidence of thyroid cancer compared to other areas of the world as it is. All of this equates to a very ill-devised study (already mentioned in the study itself!) with conclusions that are very misleading.
Major advances in dental x-rays have occurred and if you go to an office that employs this advanced technology of computerized x-rays, you will see based on this next information that you are in good hands.
In our practice we employ digital x-ray technology exclusively, which produces 90 percent less radiation than the traditional method. Because your long-term dental and overall health is our primary concern, we still use the protective aprons to minimize even the tiniest amounts of radiation that digital x-rays produce. And here are some more facts: every year we absorb, from the earth’s atmosphere, 63 times the amount of radiation that our annual regular checkup x-rays produce. That is just being on earth!
Some more facts: one typical digital dental x-ray produces about two or three mrems (a scientific unit used to measure radiation.) Flying from New York to LA gives you 5 mrems, each way (that’s 333 times the amount of radiation of an x-ray for a round trip!). You also get an additional 2 mrems per year if you sleep next to your partner (because our bodies produce tiny amounts of radiation constantly because we all have naturally occurring radioactive materials!) Cooking with natural gas produces another 10 mrems.
So you can see just how amazingly safe our new dental technologies and techniques truly are. And we’ll continue in our practice to use every possible precaution to protect our patients.
Bottom line: We’ll always err on the side of caution when it comes to our patients’ health. And we’ll make certain you have all the facts surrounding any dental procedure you may need. Just the facts, not idle speculation.