Do dental x rays cause cancer?

X-rays are a type of ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation has been shown to cause cancer. Ionizing radiation, when passing through the body, removes electrons from atoms that this energy passes through. The resulting protons, known as free radicals, can damage the body's cells. Although these cells return to normal most of the time, the cells rarely heal with some abnormalities.

These abnormal cells can then develop into cancer. From this alone, people believe that dental x-rays can cause cancer. Repeated exposure to dental x-rays may increase the risk of thyroid cancer and tumors in the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, according to new research. The researchers said that their synthesis provides good evidence that justifies further research based on dental x-ray records and on monitoring patients to test the hypothesis more thoroughly.

In recent years, there have been some alarming headlines that suggest that dental x-rays cause cancer. While it's true that every pinch of radiation received from all sources accumulates over a lifetime, it's also true that there's much less exposure to radiation on a dental x-ray than you get from spending a day in the sun during the holidays. Some studies seek to show a link between dental x-rays and thyroid cancer and certain forms of brain cancer, such as gliomas and meningiomas, but the results of these studies have been questioned because of a problem known as “recall bias.” This precaution often raises the question of whether radiation from dental x-rays can increase the risk of cancer. When considering dental x-rays, the reward of better dental care definitely outweighs this small risk.

So, while exposure to X-rays and gamma rays isn't an entirely good thing, you shouldn't believe rumors that dental x-rays cause cancer. Your dentist has your dental care as your main concern, so x-rays of your teeth are a necessary part of your dental visit.