Yale News published the results of a study undertaken by Yale that connects dental x-rays with brain tumors.
Medical x-ray technology has not yet moved into the 21st century from 1895 as the technology still relies on the same vacuum tubes that German physicist, Wilhelm Rontgen, used when he discovered a new and unknown radiation that he simply called ‘X’.
Siemens is currently developing a new method of generating x-rays using carbon nano tubes that was invented by Dr Zhou of the University of North Carolina. This will do away with the heat factor and allow better use of x-rays.
The American Dental Association guidelines for healthy persons suggest that children receive one X-ray every one to two years; teenagers every one and a half to three years, and adults every two to three years.
The South African dental association spokesperson reportedly says: ‘Patients have the right to ask whether an x-ray is really necessary and it should not just be used, but it would be unwise to avoid it’
Of course the South African response to the news that panoramic x-rays are far more dangerous than other forms of x-rays as well as not advising the regularity of x-ray treatments combined with shifting the responsibility to the patient is not surprising.
South Africa is experiencing skills shortages in many fields, including dentistry, and we cannot expect South African professionals to be leaders or even on par with those of developed countries and possibly we seriously consider that the time has come to follow the example set by other African countries, such as Zimbabwe when they adopted US currency, to adopt US standards, guidelines and only enforce professional compliance in South Africa.