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Panoramic Dental X-Rays Seldom Necessary

Dentists should spare patients exposure when they can, researcher says

FRIDAY, March 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Routine dental panoramic X-rays, which provide a wide view of the teeth, jaws and surrounding structures and tissues, are not necessary in all patients.

That's what University at Buffalo researchers reported March 11 at the International Association on Dental Research meeting in Baltimore.

The study said that nearly all the information required by a dentist about a patient's oral health can be obtained by a full-mouth series of periapical X-rays. A single periapical X-ray provides an in-depth view of a particular tooth.

"You can't assess cavities or gum disease on a panoramic X-ray. If a small X-ray isn't good enough for a condition you see in a patient, then a panoramic X-ray can be done. But our results show it isn't necessary routinely for every single patient," senior author Lida Radfar, an assistant professor of oral diagnostic sciences, said in a prepared statement.

Experts analyzed 1,000 randomly selected panoramic X-rays for evidence of bone lesions or other abnormalities that could indicate problems. They identified 352 lesions and concluded that all but a few of those lesions would have been detected by a full-mouth series of periapical X-rays.

"Based on our study, the panoramic X-ray has limited value. Eliminating it as a routine part of dental care would expose patients to fewer X-rays, although the amount is minimal, and save costs. And if it isn't necessary, why do it?" Radfar said.

More information

The Academy of General Dentistry has more about dental X-rays.

SOURCE: University at Buffalo, news release, March 11, 2005
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