It has become routine for dentists and other doctors to order X-rays at every appointment, as well as recommending appointments every 6 months — but the FDA is warning that lower doses and fewer X-rays should be used on children because radiation can cause cancer.
According to the FDA warning:
Because children have longer expected lifetimes ahead of them for potential effects to appear and the risk for cancer is not fully understood, it’s important to use the lowest radiation dose necessary to provide a diagnostic exam.”
The FDA recommends that X-rays should use the lowest radiation dose needed. These exams include CT scans, fluoroscopy, dental, and conventional X-rays.
Technically, the patient’s body thickness (the distance an X-ray travels through the body to create the image) is the most important consideration when “child-sizing” the dose of radiation.
The FDA also suggests that parents and caregivers keep track of how many times their child gets an X-ray or medical imaging tests, and ask the doctor: “How will the exam improve my child’s health care? Are there alternative exams to X-rays that are equally useful?”
Unnecessary radiation exposure should be avoided due to the risk of cancer, but X-rays and CT scans should never be withheld from any patient with life-threatening medical condition in which the X-ray or CT scan could provide useful information for a diagnosis or treatment.