Dental X-rays offer patients a chance to escape agony
After a week of sensational news stories about an idiot practising dentistry out of a bedroom in his house, I was dismayed to see that you decided to milk the sensational attention on dentistry [“ Radiation safety of dental X-rays questioned”, August 15-22].
Here are the facts: there is definite risk to humanity in exposure to ionizing radiation. Marie Curie lost her life discovering radioactivity, and thousands of Japanese citizens have died since the Second World War after atomic bombs were dropped upon them.
However, the question still remains whether low-dose exposure to ionizing radiation leads to a detectable increase in risk of tumours. There have been many studies on the possible link of dental radiographs and tumours. The study you quote by Elizabeth Claus is one of the most flawed articles on the topic.
I am shocked that you did not quote articles by Dieter Dirksen and other authors who’ve demonstrated inherent problems with her study. It was guilty of doing exactly what you did in your article. It found a bunch of people who got a meningioma [tumour around the membranes of the brain and spinal cord]—in your case you found poor Carole-Ann Stanway—and asked them: did you have a bunch of dental X-rays when you were younger? From those interviews, they mistakenly infer a cause-and-effect relationship.
What if Ms. Stanway had eaten too many carrots when she was younger? Would you infer that people who eat too many carrots are at a risk of developing meningiomas? The notion is equally as preposterous as asking someone to recollect if they had too many X-rays.
As a dentist, I take every action to reduce the radiation dose to my patients by judicious use of digital radiographs. Why would you scare patients to the point that they may refuse a CT scan that could save their lives? As a prosthodontist I have had to deal with disfigured faces of patients who waited too long to be diagnosed of serious intrabony cancers.
If a patient refuses radiographs for years to minimize their cancer risk, their dentist is unable to diagnose caries, periodontal disease, aggressive lesions such as ameloblastoma, and yes, even cancer.
> Kevin Aminzadeh / Nimbus Dental Arts, Vancouver
Alex Roslin thinks we should worry about cancer risk from CT scans because the U.S. National Cancer Institute “estimated 29,000 cancers (half of them fatal) will result from the 72 million medical CT scans done in 2007 alone”. But that’s only about one cancer death per 5,000 CT scans. How many other lives were saved by medical treatments based on those 72 million CT scans?
> Glenn Bullard / Vancouver