So the good news is, not being able to afford dental care has an upside!
A study published Tuesday in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer reported a link between certain kinds of dental X-rays and the most common brain tumor, one that is almost always benign but can still be debilitating.
The study found at a general level that people with meningioma were more than twice as likely as people without the brain tumor to have had a bitewing X-ray sometime in their life. For a bitewing X-ray, the patient holds the film in place by biting down on a tab.
The exposures to dental X-rays in the study took place in the 1960s, when dental X-rays delivered higher doses of radiation than today’s do. The study compared the self-reported dental X-ray histories of 1,433 adults who had been diagnosed with the tumor with 1,350 who had not.
The study also found an association between the less commonly used panorex X-rays, which are taken outside the mouth and deliver a panoramic view of the full set of top and bottom teeth, and meningioma risk.
People who reported having had a panorex exam before they turned 10 were 4.9 times as likely to develop meningioma as those who had them at any other time, and those who had had them most frequently (but not necessarily at that young age) were about three times as likely to do so as those who had never had a panorex exam.