Estimation of x-ray radiation related cancers in US dental offices: Is it worth the risk?

Douglas K. Benn, Peter S. Vig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objective of this study was to estimate the possible number of cancer cases produced during 2019 in US dental offices from radiography, estimate the possible reduction in those rates resulting from use of intraoral rectangular collimation and selection criteria, and determine the frequency and quality of website radiation risk information and informed consent forms. Study Design: An analysis of dental radiation examinations in 2014 to 2015 US national survey data, Nationwide Evaluation of X-ray Trends, and National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements surveys was performed, in addition to an analysis of 2008 to 2020 Journal of Clinical Orthodontics national orthodontic surveys for radiographic examination frequencies. Lifetime attributable cancer risk estimates from US and European studies were used to generate the total dental and orthodontic office cancer totals. In total, 150 offices were examined online for the quality and frequency of risk information in websites and consent forms. Results: The 2019 estimate for all office cancers is 967. Collimation and selection criteria could reduce this to 237 cancer cases. Most cancers arise from intraoral and cone beam computed tomography examinations, with 135 orthodontic cancers over 21 months (average treatment time). Collimation and selection criteria could reduce this to 68. Only 1% of offices use collimators or informed consent for radiography. The website and consent information were of poor quality. Conclusions: Dentists are not following selection criteria or using collimators according to guidelines. Up to 75% of cancer cases could be avoided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4568
JournalOral surgery, oral medicine, oral pathology and oral radiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Dentistry (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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