Oral & Vision Health Blog

Is There a Connection Between Dental X-rays and Thyroid Cancer?

 Thyroid cancer is the eighth most common cancer in America. Over the past 10 years, it appears that this cancer has been on the rise. But experts state one of the reasons for this is the fact that technology increases our ability to detect it. It’s a good thing technology and innovations also make this type of cancer easy to cure.

As a health-aware individual, it’s natural to wonder whether there is a connection between dental X-rays and thyroid cancer. There are several risk factors associated with thyroid cancer, including exposure to certain doses of radiation. Here are three common questions people have about the radiation from getting digital images done. 

Does exposure from dental X-rays cause thyroid cancer? Per the American Thyroid Association, prior to 1970, radiation from dental exams could possibly help cause thyroid cancer because providers did not use a thyroid shield, along with the lead apron we’re used to. But that has changed, and dental offices commonly provide this protective shield to patients.    

Are dental X-rays necessary? Your dentist can identify certain dental problems by looking at your teeth but there are many others that he or she can only see with digital images. To continue having good dental health, it’s important for your dentist to get a full picture of your mouth, so problems can be treated before they become painful and costly. Plus, research shows that your oral health and overall health are connected; it’s clear with conditions like heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and more. The long and short of it: identifying dental issues is important. Your dentist can’t do that without the use of digital images.    

Are dental X-rays safe? The American Dental Association says that the amount of radiation contact from dental X-rays is minor compared to what people get from other sources, both natural and man-made. What’s more, as said above, is being able to get a thyroid shield. If you’re pregnant, you should tell your provider.

At the end of the day, your goal is to be healthy and to have a beautiful smile. One step to that end is, during an exam, to request a thyroid shield (if your dentist does not provide one). Second, remember that dental images are important. Your dentist can see certain problems by looking but there are many others that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Fortunately, with a dental insurance plan, these radiographs are either covered at no charge or at a low cost. And if you do need treatment, a dental plan allows you to get the care you need without paying an arm and a leg.



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