As an implant dentist x-rays are frequently administered in our office and safety for our patients is a great value of the practice. Recently, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) released a new policy statement. In it they stated that thyroid collars should be worn for all dental x-rays whenever the collar does not interfere with the x-ray results. The purpose of today’s post is simply to inform you of recommended safety precautions to make sure are in practice the next time you are sitting in the dental chair.
According to the ATA radiation exposure is still the leading cause of thyroid cancer. Click here to view the complete ATA policy statement. The conclusion of the statement lists key considerations and recommendations.
- The risk of thyroid cancer arising from radiation exposure is strongly dependent on age at exposure. This risk is greatest in children, increasing dramatically as the child’s age at exposure decreases.
- Risk of thyroid cancer for adults exposed to radiation is low, but not absent. It is only recently that a risk for exposure after the age of 15 has been observed.
- Among children and adults alike, the risk of thyroid cancer resulting from radiation exposure is reduced proportionately with the dose of radiation received.
- The ATA recommends that the necessity of all diagnostic x-rays be evaluated before they are performed. This must include the potential risks as well as the potential benefits to the patient. This must also include a consideration of the alternative methods for obtaining the same or related clinical information.
- The ATA recommends that the patient or the patient’s decision-maker are made aware of the potential risks and benefits to any diagnostic procedure in a manner that is understandable to them.
- The ATA recommends that clinicians are adequately informed about the potential risks of radiation and the general principles of radiation dosimetry, especially as they relate to children and to the thyroid.
- With regards to mammography, the ATA does not recommend routine thyroid shielding for mammography due to a lack of data to substantiate its use. Furthermore, any risk to the thyroid is much lower than the benefit of mammography.
- With regards to CT scans and other diagnostic radiographies, the ATA recommends the use of thyroid shields when possible to protect the thyroid. These procedures may involve clinically relevant radiation doses to the thyroid, and the goal is to reduce thyroid exposure as much as feasible.
- With regards to dental x-rays, the ATA recommends the reduction of thyroidal radiation exposure as much as possible without compromising the clinical goals of dental examinations. The ATA thus endorses the recommendations of the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements (NCRP) Report 145, Radiation Protection in Dentistry, 2003 (2). However, it urges a reconsideration of the less stringent requirement put forth for thyroid shielding in adults as compared to children. The ATA also recommends that efforts be made to encourage and monitor compliance with the American Dental Association (ADA) and NCRP guidelines and to reduce, as much as possible, the areas of ambiguity in them.
Dental x-rays are quite safe when using the proper protection against the radiation.