The dangers of frequent dental x-rays, how often is safe to get them done, and how to best protect yourself and your children with one simple request at cleanings and checkups.
I don’t get dental x-rays very often. My children did not get them regularly either.
I certainly don’t consider getting them every six months like most dentists seem to demand even for children.
In fact, I have been known to laugh out loud when told by a dental professional that “you get more radiation walking to your car (or eating a banana…?) than from this digital x-ray machine.”
If you haven’t noticed, gaslighting is a common tactic to avoid uncomfortable truths in the medical community.
If dental x-rays are so harmless, why do they put a big lead suit over you? And why does the technician quickly leave the room before the x-rays are taken?
The fact is that anyone who has taken a basic high school physics class knows that radiation comes in many forms. It’s called the electromagnetic spectrum.
You can’t compare the UV and infrared radiation from the sun with ionizing radiation from an x-ray machine that takes pictures of your bones.
How Often is Safe for Dental X-rays?
There are a wide variety of opinions on how often is safe to get a set of dental x-rays.
Most conventional practices do it every six months, even for children. Some will even kick you out if you try to have them done less often!
Once or twice a year for a set of x-rays is far too frequent according to the research detailed below.
Biological dentists will typically do x-rays as infrequently as a patient desires.
To give you a suggested timeframe, my Father (Family Physician) always recommended to his patients as part of his healthy lifestyle suggestions that a set of bitewings every five years and a full set of dental x-rays every 10 years was sufficient when the diet is good and barring any preexisting conditions.
This minimizes exposure to ionizing radiation which is cumulative over a lifetime and can cause cancer.
I’ve followed this recommended timeframe throughout my life and also for my children. My husband does the same.
While this may seem to be a very long time compared to conventional practices, I can attest to the fact that my kids (oldest is now 24) have never had any issues with their teeth for having such infrequent dental x-rays.
And yes, I’ve been subjected to quite the scare tactics from dentists and hygienists over the years about it!
Note that if an issue with a tooth presents itself, you can always request a SINGLE x-ray for that tooth, something many people don’t realize!
Why Do Dentists Skip the Thyroid Guard?
That being said, sometimes you really do need to get a full set of dental x-rays for whatever reason.
If you find yourself in a situation where dental x-rays are needed, be sure to insist on a thyroid guard.
In the picture above, you will see that the child is covered with a lead suit in preparation for the dental x-rays. But, where is the thyroid guard?
Nowhere to be seen!
Most dental technicians don’t use one unless the patient specifically asks for it.
Given that thyroid cancer is on the rise and that there are so many assaults on this delicate, butterfly-shaped organ in our modern life from processed foods and environmental toxins, it is very important that you insist on thyroid protection whenever you get any sort of dental x-ray. (1)
But what about the Snopes claim that this is a conspiracy theory and that there is no danger?
The truth is that Snopes is an organization literally founded and run by fraudsters and escorts. It has no credibility as a fact-checker whatsoever. (2)
Dental X-Rays a Risk to the Thyroid
Here’s the truth about the dangers to health from overly frequent dental x-rays.
Studies have shown that pregnant women who have dental x-rays are at higher risk for having small babies.
Study participants who had dental x-rays while pregnant were at double the risk of having a low birth weight baby born prematurely. In addition, the women were at triple the risk of having an underweight baby born full term. (3)
This study involved 4,500 women who had babies between 1993 and 2000 and was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Philippe Hujoel, a professor of dental public health services at the University of Washington, said that it is unclear how the radiation might be affecting fetuses. He conjectured that perhaps the thyroid gland in the pregnant women was somehow affected by the dental x-rays.
He went on to say that previous studies have found an increased risk of low birth weight babies in women with mild thyroid disease.
Insist on a Thyroid Guard!
It is very important to insist on a thyroid guard whenever you or a loved one has a dental x-ray taken. This simple device should also be used during mammograms.
But, it is best to not do them at all anyway. In a nutshell, always insist on no-radiation solutions like a thermogram or a breast ultrasound.
Even Dr. Oz warns about repeated dental x-rays and mammograms as they can potentially contribute to increased risk for thyroid cancer. (4)
Despite his highly conventional approach, Dr. Oz concludes that wearing a thyroid guard during these procedures is a wise move. (5)
What’s it going to hurt to wear one, after all?
There is absolutely no downside to this extra safety precaution, so don’t let your dentist or hygienist talk you out of it.
If, after asking your dentist for a thyroid guard, you discover that he/she doesn’t even have one available, you can safely assume that it is time for you to find a new dentist!
Need a Dentist Who Won’t Push X-rays?
I get many requests about who I recommend as a truly holistic, biological dentist. If you are looking for one, I recommend Dr. Carlo Litano of Natural-Smiles.com – (727) 300-0044.
He sees young children as well as adults. He also does phone consults for those who don’t live close enough for an office visit. Be sure to tell him that Sarah sent you and get 10% off your first visit!
(1) Thyroid Cancer on the Rise
(2) SNOPES ‘fact checker’ accused of defrauding website, staff includes an escort-porn star
(3) Dental X-Rays Might Lead to Smaller Babies
(4) Repeated Dental Xrays without Neck Shielding Predispose to Thyroid Cancer
(5) Dr. Oz: Thyroid Guards During Mammograms & Dental X-Rays
There is a reason why the exposure button of the X-ray is located outside of the room at least 6 feet away from the cone. For many dental offices the amount of X rays is dictated by the insurance. If the patient’s insurance will pay /allow for two sets of bit-wings within a year then thats what the dentist or hygienist will take. And most patients will not question that. Very sad but true. Also, many X-rays , are not of the diagnostic quality, especially the ones that are done on children who cannot hold the big sensor or film inside their mouths. Still, the insurance or you have to pay for it. Also, always insist on seeing the dentist first before taking any exposure. Most of the time when you come do dentist with a problem, the assistant will take the X ray of the achy tooth so the dr can see where the problem is before he/she has a chance to look in your mouth. However, very often the problem might be that the gum is pulling away from the tooth and it causes sensitivity or you simply lost the existing filling. Have your dentist evaluate the situation first in your mouth and then when necessary take the exposure.
I was so happy to see you offered a referral to a biological dentist. I live in north Pinellas County, so it would be a 40-minute drive, but well worth it when needed. However, I just called to see if they offered insurance, and they don’t. I was hoping they at least offered a “plan”, like my current dentist (who says she’s holistic, but really isn’t fully biological in her training). For $260/year I get two cleanings, one set of x-rays (which I see I really don’t need now, LOL) and 20% off any other services. Just to have a mercury filling removed and refilled, from Natural Smiles, would be around $450. My husband and I are on a retirement fixed income, so medical out-of-pocket costs get pretty hefty, since even our Functional Medicine doctor is going to end offering insurance. We’re doomed. LOL
When my husband had his six amalgams removed by a biological dentist, we did one every six months to afford it as our dental insurance didn’t cover it. This was 25 years ago and really was tough for us financially at the time, but so glad we did it. His health improved tremendously as a result.
A lot of specialized equipment is necessary to remove amalgams properly so as not to harm the patient. That is why it is expensive.
I have a Bio-Dentist and asked her for a thyroid protector and body apron. She said they have them; however, they don’t advise using them, due to the latest studies. Apparently, they are finding out they are actually doing a disservice and radiation gets trapped from the sides. I haven’t looked into it, so just using context that I can remember from our conversation, but I do know that sometimes we think we’re protecting or fixing something and realize that what we replaced it with actually did more harm, catch 22. I think it deserves another big research into how that actually happens with the radiation and aprons.
Thanks for sharing …. good point to remember that even using the thyroid guard is not a failsafe. Best to stick with the every 5 years for bitewings and 10 years for a full set recommended by doctors decades ago that has sadly been swept aside.
Is there a way to “flush” the radiation a child gets from getting X-rays? Thank you!
Sarah Pope MGA
Unfortunately not. Radiation exposure is cumulative over a lifetime.
I recently went to a chiropractor and had x rays taken of my spine. I wasn’t concerned until the technician took the scope and asked me to open my mouth and took an X ray in my mouth, pointing it down my throat. Does this pose a risk to my thyroid? I didn’t have any protection.
Sarah Pope MGA
Probably according to the research. Sad that conventional dentists today are so flippant about the long-term risks x-rays pose to their patients. And people scratch their heads and wonder why teenagers are getting hypothyroid today with enlarged, swollen necks. They tell them it is “genetic”… well the effect of the genes only kicks in IF the person gets zapped with excessive levels of radiation. What’s the initiating cause… the radiation of course NOT the genes.
It is not tiny. You are ignoring one important factor. The amount of energy is small but it is concentrated in just a short period of time. That is a big difference in physics. You can see that in simple examples. For example two guys are on the top of a building (Energy = Mass * building height * gravity). One jumps from the building the other goes throuhg the stairs. They eventually arrive at the same spot in the ground, but one is alive the other is dead, but why ? They after all started from the same height and end up in the ground spending the same amount of energy ? The trick is that the guy that used the steps lost the energy little by little, on each step of the stairs. The other lost all the energy in fractions of a second during the impact. See the problem… the time under which you receive that radiation is important.
@Suzette: no, not at all. Aside from CTs, diagnostic radiology is all very low dose stuff.
Just two quick points; the dose from a typical bite wing dental x-ray is about 0.005 mSv. Annual dose from naturally occurring background radiation is about 2 mSv per annum, so the dose (and resultant risk) from a dental x-ray is quite tiny. Secondly, the dose to organs comes from x-rays that are scattered internally within the body. (There is a small amount of radiation that leaks through the tube housing, but for modern tubes this is miniscule and can be neglected.) So lead aprons etc are of no real benefit other than making some patients feel happier. The dentist leaves the room when the x-rays are being taken because they take many x-rays throughout their working life, and receive no benefit from the radiation, so it is considered good practice. Having said that though, if they stayed in the room the dose would be tiny anyway, but there is no reason for them to do so.
So although there is a very small risk from the x-rays, it is really neither here nor there and I am quite happy to get my teeth x-rayed.