Scene Magazine article: June 2011
Recently, the internet has been abuzz with chatter about the increase in thyroid cancer and radiation. This went viral on the internet following a Dr. Oz show that aired in the fall of 2010. On that show, Dr Oz talked about the exposure and protection of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is centered in your neck on either side of your vocal cords. Medical professionals know that glandular tissues in our bodies are particularly sensitive to radiation exposure. With the recent news coming out of Japan regarding the release of radiation, we are sensitized to what we are doing to our bodies.
A recent study published in Acta Oncol (Acta Oncol. 2010 May:49(4):447-53) described the results of a case control study of thyroid cancer and dental x-rays. This study was done in Kuwait and was a statistical analysis of data based on a structured questionnaire. This published article makes an important contribution to the scientific understanding of thyroid cancer and its potential link to dental x-rays. The bottom line of the study states that “considering the lack of information on dosimetry and age at first exposure, the findings should be interpreted with caution.”
X-rays are the only way that medical teams have to see in the body without an invasive procedure. This includes your mouth and your teeth. Many oral diseases can’t be detected by a visual examination alone. By focusing on your health vs. your disease, your physical exam can be custom tailored, taking into consideration your history, general health needs, your decay risk assessment, and disease susceptibility.
Recent advances in digital imaging technology have reduced the radiation exposure by upwards of 95%. Exposures from dental imaging is extremely low compared to other sources. Even said, precautions are necessary to protect your health. The most important thing that you can ask for from your dentist and dental hygienist is to use a lead apron with a thyroid collar whenever dental x-rays are exposed. The thyroid collar fastens around your neck to totally protect the gland tissue in the neck. The American Dental Association position states that “…protective thyroid guards should be used whenever possible.”
It is important to note that your dental physical examination should focus on your health. It all starts with a conversation about your goals, dreams and desires. Clearly focusing on what you want will allow you and your dental team to co-design your treatment with you, leaving you in complete control of your health. My team and I invite you to join us and share your journey to Oral Fitness for Life™.