Hey Dr. Oz – You’re Annoying Me!

This is a panoramic x-ray with a thyroid collar. Do you want your dentist to try to diagnose anything with this?


Thyroid problems are becoming more and more prevalent these days.  With that in mind, Dr. Oz decided he was going to address this issue in a show that aired a while back.  My husband and I had the program on in the background, but it immediately grabbed our attention when the subject of dentistry was brought into the discussion.  He mentioned was that you need to wear a thyroid collar when having dental x-rays performed.  He went on to say that if your dentist doesn’t put one on you – you should demand one.  He discussed the need to block the radiation from the very sensitive and delicate thyroid tissue.  Dr. Oz did not directly accuse dental x-rays for causing an increase in thyroid problems, but I felt it was implied.

Going to the office the next week became very difficult when all these new patients were demanding thyroid collars.  Let me explain why this was so annoying to me.

  1.  There are several types of dental x-rays: intraoral, extraoral and cone beam (CBCT)a.  Intraoral x-rays are used by most dentists.  These are the small films or sensors that are placed in your mouth and are used to diagnose cavities, bone loss – anything close up.

    b.  Extraoral x-rays are taken by orthodontists, oral surgeons and some general dentists.  These are a larger scan of your head.  These are used to monitor growth and to check the health of your bony structures and sinuses, check overall dental development and are great to diagnose pathology.

    c.  CBCT is a “cat scan” type technology that produces a 3D image of your skull.  The dentist can slice the image to create different views.  These are used by surgeons for proper implant placement, to diagnose pathology, and to find the 3 dimensional position of an impacted tooth.

  2.  An orthodontist typically does extraoral x-rays only.  With the thyroid collar in place, all of these films become immediately undiagnostic.  Check out the picture above from a patient who would not take a film without the thyroid collar in place.
  3. The amount of radiation from dental x-rays has substantially decreased over the years.  With the advent of high speed film and digital x-rays, the radiation is nowhere near what it was in the past (CBCT is an exception and is not a routine x-ray).  It seems to me that if dental x-rays caused thyroid problems, it would have happened in the past and we would see the problem decreasing.

So, as an informed consumer, you should try to protect yourself.  A thyroid collar isn’t a bad idea when you are having intraoral x-rays done.  If your dentist recommends an extroral x-ray, please do not ask for a thyroid collar.  It will block important images in the film.  Finally, talk to your dentist about your concerns and realize that she may know more about dentistry than that guy on TV 🙂

One Response to “Hey Dr. Oz – You’re Annoying Me!”

  1. Marc says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, Courtney. I’d seen a jump in the number of parents asking about thyroid shields recently (which is to say I actually had mothers asking about them, whereas I’m convinced a few weeks ago they’d have believed a “thyroid shield” was an accessory to one of their delicate snowflake’s favorite superhero action figures) and I was unaware of the recent press they’d received. Awareness is a good thing, but it seems Dr. O and the like appeal to the alarmists and don’t necessarily make distinctions that are critical in truly educating their audience, e.g. intraoral vs. extraoral radiographs, use vs. overuse of dental x-rays, etc. Thanks for doing your part to complete the picture where the supposed “experts” have fallen short.

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