Dr Oz: Medical Imaging History Chart, Dental X-Ray Thyroid Guard


Dr Oz did a segment called “Oz Alert: Dangerous Radiation: Are You At Risk?” where he discussed a topic that all of us are wondering about – how much is too much radiation whether it comes from Airport Scanners, Dental X-Rays or CT Scans.  Doctor Oz asked the question about whether or not Dental X-Rays are too much radiation. Dr Oz Dental X-Ray Radiation

Dr Oz: Dental Radiation & Thyroid Cancer

Dr Oz has previously spoken about the risks of Dental X-Rays with respect to getting Thyroid Cancer.  You can read the Dr Oz Recap for that segment by clicking here: Dr Oz Thyroid Cancer.  Dr Oz was joined by Ada Cooper who said that in dentistry you cannot see everything by visual inspection alone.  The only way to treat and detect an abscess, tumor or some cavities are by taking x-rays.  The ADA recommends Dental X-Rays only when necessary for treatment, but that varies from patient to patient.  Every patient should feel comfortable talking to their dentist about it.

Dr Oz: Digital X-Rays Have Less Radiation

Dr Oz said that he would recommend pushing for a Digital X-Ray over a regular film X-Ray because it tends to expose you to less radiation.  Ada Cooper did not deny this fact when Dr Oz said it, but she did say that some film X-Rays have lower radiation levels than other Film X-Rays because they are faster, such as X-Rays that use E Speed or F Speed film.

Dr Oz: Radiation Gown – Thyroid Guard + Lead Apron

Dr Oz said that you should never go into a dentist’s office for an x-ray without having a Thyroid Guard along with the regular Lead Apron.  If your dentist does not have it or does not know where the Thyroid Guard is, then that is a warning sign, because all Radiation Gowns come with Thyroid Guards.

Dr Oz: Questions to Ask Before Getting X-Rays

1.  Why Do I Need It?  Mary Mahoney said this is really important and you should ask how will it help me to get better?  If you are going to be treated with antibiotics either way, then you may as well skip a chest x-ray for example.


  1. Stephen Waterstram says

    How can you tell if your dental hygenist is using a digital X-Ray vs. Film X-Ray? If you have been X-posed for years twice a year hasn’t the damage been done already and is irreversable?
    I’ve been getting my snap shots regularly but it is just about the only X-Rays that I’m exposed to, if I come down with Throat or thyroid cancer can I sue for malpractice? And If I do sue who do I sue? What does a digital X-Ray look like vs film X-Ray?

  2. joe says

    “the ADA recommends x-rays only when necessary for treatment” ?
    That statement is absolutely false. Anyone can go to ada.org and see how full of @#[email protected] ‘Dr’ Oz is.
    The purpose of regular dental radiographs is to diagnose interproximal dental decay before it becomes large enough to require much more expensive procedures (think root canals and crowns).
    Talk about misleading the public…. Someone report this guy to the office of professions.

  3. Sarah, RDH says

    I agree with what Joe said earlier. PLUS – not all dental x-rays can utilize a thyroid collar. If a thyroid collar is used while taking a panorex, the collar will interfere with the image. I usually agree with what Dr. Oz says, but he is way off in this episode!!

  4. Rebekah, DDS says

    I was directed to this episode by a new patient that refused to have radiographs as an initial examination asking “don’t you watch Dr. Oz?” I have watched many shows but am so disappointed by the content of this episode. It is a disservice to your viewers dental health. Not to mention the scene made in my office, the patient leaving and vowing to tell everyone she know that our office causes thyroid cancer. Can you tell me how I can give a new patient there initial exam without radiographs? If I did, this would be malpractice and below the standard of care. If you have any ethics at all you will go back on the air and revise your misleading comments.

  5. Peggy RDH says

    As a practicing hygienist for over 30 years, I can assure you that dental xrays are necessary and important even when the patient or doctor does not suspect anything with the naked eye. In the world of “preventative dentistry” xrays detect issues (cavities and periodontal problems) before the patient “feels” anything and treating these issues when they are small and first detected makes the treatment minimal instead of major. PLEASE Dr. Oz, review your source and come back with up to date information. At our office, the frequency of xrays is dependent on the patients history and personal need and every patient is different.

  6. Kristen says

    :::sigh:::: Whats frustrating with these comments are the utter lack of knowledge about THYROID CANCER and the comments about “Dental health” being at risk. I have the utmost respect for Dental Drs and Hygienists and assistants I could go on and on. BUT being said I wish the same respect would be there for Endos and Thryoid Cancer in general. Just bacause you treat the mouth doesnt make you a pro on everything in ones head.

    Hello I am a thyroid cancer survivor and patient. I am 31 years old and my no means a pro on the subject. But what Dr OZ posted here is NOT news to us. Its Thyroid Cancer 101. Limit radiation and exposure. Radiation FEEDS on the thyroid its attracted to it, and ironically enough used in TREATMENT of thyroid cancer to kill the thyroid tissue and thus the cancer. Its called Radioactive Iodine Treatment. RAI…google it.

    If we start getting xrays at age 5 yearly for dental work, then chest xrays and so on and so on the exposure add’s up. Hearing my sons Dental office say they wanted to start xrays at age 3 because “it helps them get used to them” isn’t a good enough reason. Thyroid guards do NOT hinder in taking xrays, if they do your not doing it right and figure it out. Better safe than sorry right? Because trust me, I hear it a lot “Oh well at least you got the easy cancer” HA ya no cancer is easy. Ask any of these comments here if THEY have had Thyroid Cancer…….nope not one I am guessing.

    Do your research before you go and have your kids go. There IS a happy medium when it comes to taking precautions and getting good dental care!

  7. says

    Found quite a few interesting articles about this subject on the Health Physics Society (Specialists in Radiation Safety).

    “Use of the lead apron to protect the patient undergoing dental radiographic examination was recommended some 50 years ago, when equipment was crude. This was because x-ray beams were not restricted to the area of clinical interest, beams were not filtered, and x-ray film was slower, causing radiation exposures 10 to 100 times higher than received today. With the current technology reducing radiation exposure significantly and the beam limited only to the area of interest, there is little or no measurable difference in whole-body dose whether a lead apron is used or not. The lead apron is no longer regarded as essential although some consider it a prudent practice, especially for pregnant and potentially pregnant females.”

    I also wanted to point out that you receive the same amount of radiation flying in a plane from the East coast to Colorado as you would getting a whole Full Mouth Series of Xrays…so should we all be wearing thyroid collars and lead aprons to fly now?

    Dr. Oz needs to do some better researching before putting anything on air.

  8. Haley says

    Oh…and there is a lot of research out there that proves that Dental Radiation has NEVER been proven to cause cancer to the lense of the eye, thyroid, salivary glands, bone marrow, or skin. Look it up people.

  9. Pam says

    Just wanted to say thanks to Kristen for the comments about thyroid cancer, you are so right, I am a 40 year old thyca survivor, diagnosed in 2008 had total thyroidectomy and RAI treatment x 2, (no cancer is easy, it has lasting effects). I have had numerous dental x rays, had root canals in every tooth on my right side and a minimum of 4 x rays on each tooth, plus all the other x rays of my teeth over the years, (cancer was on my right side). Was never offered a thyroid collar. I am not placing blame on the dentists because whats done is done but I firmly believe there is a connection! (even though most Drs will tell you there isn’t). Thank you for getting this topic out there, radiation does cause cancer. I do wonder what other body parts take up radiaton that my thyroid used to? Should we avoid x rays? No one seems to be able to answer this.

  10. M. Turner, RDH says

    Dr. Oz is really trying to help people. As he said in his follow up show, people are scared and don’t know what to think. We must be concerned and talk to our patients about these issues. Our office only does 4 small films a year and the large panorex every 3-5+ years and never both at the same visit. If you saw the 1st show, it was a lady doctor who implied that dental x-rays werent worth the risk “just to check for decay”. That was absurb!! I’ve been a hygienist for 25 yrs and without x-rays we would miss half the decay in peoples teeth and never see the extent of the decay without x=rays. Also, most radiation shields have a thytoid collar attached at the top of it. Countless times when I put this on patients to do their x=rays, they try to push this part of the shield down because it bothers them being right under their chin and I always tell them its necessary to protect their thyroid. But, on the large Panorex film it is very common for the shield to compromise the quality of the x-ray (thats why we ask you to take off your necklaces and earrings) by casting a bright (metal) shadow over the film. The shield has lead in it. Dr. Oz is giving a general health recommendation. Ask your dentist or hygienist for specific recommendations and they should be up to date if they are truly licensed.

  11. Lynn RDH says

    Maybe Dr Oz should have mentioned that the best way to limit dental radiation is to ” TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH!!! TRY FLOSSING EVERY DAY! BRUSH WELL! Knock off the high sugar, high acid drinks and sugary snacks!! You cannot eliminate all dental x-rays, but this is a great place to start!

  12. Mark....DDS.. says

    In best regards to the people who battles thyroid cancer, I wish you continued good health and congratulate you on your brave battle. Having said that, being in this field for over 30 years and seeing the improvements/enhancements in all aspects of the Dental field, I find Dr. Oz is causing undue mass public hysteria. There have never been any documented cases of dental x-rays causing any types of cancer in the head, neck, or thyroid area. Dr, Oz needs to stick to the medical side of things and stay away from subjects he knows little about. This is exactly how the “swine flu” (notice how you haven’t heard anything about it this year) and the amalgam filling fiasco thing started, all by so-called “experts” who cause general panic and grief, when none is called for. In the dental community, we are professionals….and we would never put our patients in harms way. The vest the patient wears has a thyroid collar, and is always used when taking any type of radiograph, Also…most offices use digital x-rays these days, which in effect, use 75 percent less exposure time than the normal ectaspeed Kodak film that was used for many years safely and effectively.

  13. leighton Campbel RDH says

    I think people also need to be aware of what the thyroid collar is. The comment of “not being offered one” is something that you would never be offered because they are apart of the lead aprons that have always been used. This isn’t something special or extra it is something that has been in practice for many many years now.

  14. Dawn Willett says

    If we wear a lead apron to get an x-ray to protect our vital organs. Then why don’t we wear one on our head? Is that not a vital organ?

  15. says

    I am a fan of Dr. Oz and really enjoy the show when I get a chance to watch it. I believe he is truly trying to help the general public. People who watch this show need to keep in mind that this is “show business” and, unless he gets high ratings, he’ll be taken off the air. With that in mind, I believe the good doctor needs to either do better research regarding topics he’s unfamiliar with, such as oral health care. On multiple occasions he has given out horrible advice and has scared millions of people with regards to oral health. I don’t need to repeat what many other dentists and hygienists have already stated in this forum with regards to the thyroid collar and thyroid cancer. I would hope that in future episodes Dr. Oz would invite a dentist onto the show when he wants to discuss oral health care topics so that the general public will get the TRUTH!.

  16. Michael Teters says

    I have heard of Dr. Oz’s TV show, but other than that, it’s not really on my radar screen. After watching just two show’s, my suspicions seem justified that his advice is not well researched, and he is a TV feel good personality, not a prudent and insightful physician. His ‘medical advice’ by and large should be called opinion.
    The first show I saw was on radiation exposure from airport security scanners and the second on the increase in thyroid cancers that Oz thinks is caused by dental X-rays and mammorgrams. Despite the fact that Oz brought on the Dr. Mahoney from the RSNA, the collective authority on medical radiation, and she dismissed the scanner dose as miniscule, OZ insisted on hanging on to the ridiculously low public exposure from the device as a serious risk to skin and cancer initiation.
    Obviously, OZ is acting the showman, trying to stir up controversy for ratings. Or possibly, just so he himself can get more attention. Look at me everybody, I was a respected M.D., now I’m a giant star. Kiss the ring.

  17. Michael Teters says

    I wonder if Oz knows there is a radioactive Americium button in most smoke alarms! And we all have smoke alarms in our houses! oh, God. Alert Oprah. Get Oz on the phone now so he can start stirring up house wives into a frenzy. A frenzy always brings the shows rating up a point or 2.

  18. xraytech34 says

    Having been an x-ray technologist for 10 years, the media gives out false information about ALL radiation. They create this mass hysteria that is uncalled for. When we went to x-ray school, we took Radiation Biology, Radiation Physics, and Radiation Safety. We know exactly what our rays are capable of. Yes, radiation kills cells. That’s why they use it to treat cancer. You must know that that is such a focused, powerful beam, aimed directly at the spot that needs to be treated. You’re everyday x-rays are NOTHING compared to this, especially dental x-rays. Like someone said in an earlier post, you are getting more radiation from flying or if you live in a high altitude area. And whoever said that thyroids “don’t get in the way of dental x-rays”, are you an x-ray tech or a dental tech? Didn’t think so, or you would know that they DO superimpose areas that we are trying to x-ray. Would you rather be hit twice with the panorex because you insisted on a thyroid shield, when we AS THE PROFESSIONALS, suggested against it? NOT ALL RADIATION IS GOING TO GIVE YOU CANCER. X-ray is an important diagnostic tool. We also know it can be dangerous. We are taught very important infomation on how to protect our patients and ourselves to the best of our ablilty without compromising a needed x-ray of the body. We aren’t murderers. We are here to help the practicioners get all of the infomation they need to make a diagnosis.

    P.S. “Radiation gowns come with thyroid guards” is false. Thryoid shields do not automatically come with lead aprons. You have to order what you want for your clinic or hospital. So if your place of employment orders 4 or more lead aprons, you need to go in and order 4 or more thyroids as well.

  19. jazzygirl says

    I just wanted to say in reference to the people that are defending X-rays so vehemently, that hello, we DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHAT CAUSES CANCER yet. That’s why we are taking precautions for things that might be linked to it. You cannot defend it definitely, because so far, no one has been able to predict who will get cancer and who will not. It is still a mystery. Therefore, we do not know what will and will not cause cancer. Please don’t defend something that has not been scientifically proven yet to NOT cause cancer. It might, it might not.

  20. Michael Teters says

    Jazzygirl –
    In reference to your comment, it’s virtually impossible to prove that something does not exist.
    It’s the ignorance of the uninformed that opportunists like Dr. Oz use to create a stir which hopefully will translate into TV ratings…..btw, that’s you, the uninformed.

  21. jazzygirl says

    Michael teters- That was pretty much my point. I AM uninformed. As are you, as to what actually causes cancer. Just trying to make the point that it’s good to question things, especially with the potential consequences being so serious. Throughout the expansive history of science of medicine, there have been many theories which have been stated as absolute truths, only to be overturned with the unearthing of new evidence and/or contradictions. Just saying. Especially since there has been some speculation already regarding radiation, etc.

  22. Michael Teters says

    Actually, we do know how radiation causes cancer. It can ionize DNA. If that ionization causes a loss or relocation of a supressor gene, it can lead to the expression of an oncogene. This alone may not lead to cancer, but it is a first step. Cancer is caused by a morphological change and the immortalization of a cell. Just saying.
    The point is that statistically it is highly improbably that you are going to get thyroid cancer from a mammogram, dental X-ray or a security scanner.

  23. Mike DMD says

    I am a practicing dentist in Pennsylvania. By state law, we are required to have our X-ray machines inspected regularly to ensure that safe levels of radiation are emitted. As was mentioned previously, the X-ray beam is focused to a very small area limited to your mouth and surrounding tissues. The tube (collimating tube) prevents radiation from scattering beyond the reach of the tissues being examined. The amount of radiation received by dental X-rays is minimal compared to background radiation (radiation emitted from the sun and from space) that is present at all times. You receive far more radiation from tanning for an afternoon then from dental X-rays.

  24. Michael Teters says

    Mike DMD –
    Sorry to hear these misconceptions spread by health professionals. While the amount of X radiation a patient receives is relatively low, it is not less that one would get from an afternoon from tanning. You do not receive any X radiation from a day at the beach. I’ve heard this analogy before and it is just WRONG. I think what you may be trying to say is that the health effect from a few dental X-rays is roughly equal to the health effect of a day of tanning. I don’t know if this is true or not and it would be extremely hard to prove.
    Also, the amount a patient gets from a 16 film series is not minimal. It’s equal to somewhere between 1 and 2 Rads.

    Michael Teters

  25. Scott Noren DDS says

    I second many of the well-informed responses that include 1) xray gowns generally do NOT include thyroid collars…2) thyroid collars worn during a panorex exam block out key areas and are generally avoided.
    When you have neck films in the ER of OR, they include the thyroid and this is HIGHER radiation levels than a digital panorex. Dr. Oz types misinform the public so badly, it is actually an ethical issue at this point.
    Oral Surgeon NY State

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