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Children Exposed To High Levels of Radiation At Dentist’s Office

The New York Times recently explored an issue that hasn’t received much consideration: radiation exposure caused by dental exams. It is well established that children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults. For that reason almost all hospitals and medical clinics do everything in their power to limit child radiation exposure to bare minimum levels.

Unfortunately that push has not led to many changes at dentist offices across the country. Instead most dentists still use out-dated x-ray film that exposes young patients to high doses of radiation. What’s worse it that specialists and orthodontists are now using a new scanning device that actually emits even more radiation than the old x-ray models.

This con-beam CT scanner provides great 3D images, but a New York Times investigation questions many of the claims made about the new scanners. Specifically, reports on the new imaging technology compare it to airport scanners but fail to note that it actually produces hundreds of times more radiation than those airport devices.

The lack of honest evaluation of the radiation issue means that the side-effects may mount quickly with continued indiscriminate use of the scanners. In other words, dental experts are putting young patients at risk by using a device that they don’t fully understand. Routine use of these scanners may cause much more harm than good.

One doctor explains the situation, “So let me ask a question to the mother of a prospective orthodontic patient. Would you like me to use a tool that is entirely safe-a camera-to record the position of your child’s teeth, or another method that may rarely cause cancer?”

Our Chicago malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti understand the desire to provide cutting edge technology to all patients. However, proper care is always grounded in a reasonable assessment of a procedure’s benefit compared to its risk. At the very least, medical professionals must take appropriate steps to test new processes fairly before engaging in wide-spread use of new methods.

There is much more to this analysis. Please Click Here to learn more about the exposure risk being faced by our children during dental visits.

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