This week, the ADA again issued a statement regarding the importance of reducing patient exposure to ionizing x-ray radiation. The full release is below, and we have a solution to ADA's claim that "when x-rays are necessary...use a rectangular collimator" - Tru-Align™, is the only x-ray positioning system that makes rectangular collimation work.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this ADA statement on reducing patient exposure to dental x-rays--please leave your comments below.

Recently you may have heard about increased discussions via email and social media networks about the safety of dental X-rays. Much of the discussion stems from an unnamed individual who referenced a Dr. Oz show that aired "last Wed" advising women to ask for a thyroid collar when receiving a mammogram or dental x-ray to reduce radiation exposure. The individual encouraged people to share this information, and it has been spreading through social media networks and via email.

Dr. Oz discusses his controversial advice about requesting thyroid guards during mammograms and dental x-rays.

It is possible the individual is referring to a Dr. Oz program that actually aired Sept. 28, 2010. The episode focused on thyroid cancer, and during a portion of the show, Dr. Oz promoted the use of protective leaded aprons and thyroid collars to reduce radiation exposure, a practice the ADA recommends in The Selection of Patients for Dental Radiographic Examinations developed by the ADA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

While the ADA believes the radiation exposure from dental X-rays is low relative to other sources, every precaution should be taken to ensure that radiation exposure is as low as reasonably achievable (the ALARA principle). The ADA recommends that dentists use leaded aprons and leaded thyroid collars (or non-lead equivalents) whenever possible. This practice is strongly recommended for children, women of childbearing age and pregnant women who are especially susceptible to radiation effects.

The ADA also recommends conducting a thorough clinical examination, considering the patient's history, reviewing any prior X-rays, performing a caries risk assessment and considering both the dental and the general health needs of the patient prior to taking any X-rays. When x-rays are necessary, the ADA recommends that dentists use the fastest imaging receptor and use a rectangular collimator. There is no recommended frequency for panoramic radiograph or full-mouth surveys. The only imaging examination with a frequency recommendation is the bitewing—its frequency is based on an assessment of the patient's caries risk.

Recently, a physician with the American Cancer Society posted a detailed discussion about thyroid cancer on a CNN blog and noted the ADA guidelines for the use of leaded aprons and thyroid collars. The following discussion points and links to resources may be helpful in talking with patients about the issue of x-ray safety:

  • Many oral diseases can't be detected on the basis of a visual and tactile examination alone. Dental X-ray exams are valuable in providing information about your oral health such as early stage cavities, gum diseases, abscesses or some types of tumors. X-rays can help dentists catch and treat oral health problems at an early stage.
  • How often dental X-rays should be taken depends on your oral health condition, your age, your risk for disease and any signs and symptoms of oral disease you may be experiencing. Let's talk about what is right for you.
  • The American Dental Association has information about dental X-rays on its Web site atADA.org if you would like more information.