Dental & Medical X-Rays
A Heads-Up!

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

November 25, 2019 [printfriendly]




Dental & Medical X-Rays


By my count, five dentists over the age of 60 died of glioblastomas in my town over the last three years. The number of dentists over 60 years old practicing in SC is approximately 510.[1] I estimated the incidence of dentists dying from this brain cancer for this age group in my town to be 0.33% annually. The incidence of yearly deaths from glioblastomas in the general population over the age of 60 is 0.003%.[2] The incidence of these brain cancer deaths in dentists in SC is 110 times more than in the similar age group of the general population in the US!


My question is a resounding, “Why?”


You have heard my story. I have an advanced stage of multiple myeloma, which is incurable by conventional modern oncology today. I am now 72 years old. As a dentist, and from research that I have found[3], I believe this bone marrow cancer of my plasma cells was directly and partly related to my continuous exposure to dental x-rays while in dental school. Dental training lasted for 4 years and then graduate periodontal training for an additional 2 years. My extended exposure was in the early 1970s. It is important to note that dental x-rays are a form of low-dose ionizing radiation.




It was once thought that high-dose ionizing radiation was the only radiation that caused permanent damage in humans. Most of this research came from medical results after studying exposed individuals from the nuclear bomb that was dropped in Japan in 1945 and also from the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster in Ukraine in 1986. However, newer studies have shown that low-dose radiation from these disasters and from dental and medical diagnostic x-rays are more damaging if they are cumulative. And the destruction from cumulative exposure might not manifest for three or more decades from the initial exposures.[4]


Interestingly, the cells in individuals that survived exposure to low doses could accumulate damages that later manifested in their children. These life-threatening changes are chromosomal aberrations in both cells that were directly irradiated and not directly irradiated. It appears that complex tissue reactions cause damage to cells that are distant from the cells directly exposed.[5]


In a paper published in 2012 in the publication Cancer, people who received frequent dental x-rays in the past had an increased risk of developing brain tumors.[6] Also, some inherent risk factors for many types of cancers include various degrees of prior radiotherapy, an unhealthy gut microbiome, depressed immune system, as well as some DNA susceptibility.


The research that is being presented today must be understood and taken to heart. A 2018 research paper published in Environmental Health and Toxicology summarizes some of the studies that have shown the potential cancer risks of frequent dental x-rays.[7]


We need to be aware of the potential health risks because manifestations of cancers could result decades after repeated exposure to dental and medical x-rays. What appears to be happening to our cells from the accumulating exposure to dental and medical x-rays include:

  • Damage to the gut microbiome, its metabolites, and the gut epithelial barrier
  • Creation of oxidative stress and free radicals in exposed cells
  • Communication between cells through various biological modalities
  • Upregulating and downregulating cancer genes through diet and lifestyle habits
  • Transfer of DNA predispositions to our children and their children



What To Do?

There is no potential cure for many of the cancers caused by ionizing radiation. It is critical that we be proactive to try to avoid and certainly reduce any exposure to ionizing radiation if possible. Consider changing your lifestyle and nutrition so that you are helping your immune system to function at peak performance. Also, avoid all routine dental and medical x-rays that are not necessary to make a diagnosis of a treatable problem.


Since cancers are also a disease of mitochondrial dysfunction[8], investigate methods to repair and enhance the mitochondria. These include incorporating a nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory diet, high-intensity interval exercises, fasting (intermittent and multiday), ingestion of an abundance of cruciferous vegetables, and PEMF (Pulsed ElctroMagnetic Field) Therapy[9]. In addition, avoid the direct exposure from dirty electromagnetic fields from cell phones and computer screens close to the body, which have been shown to damage mitochondrial function.[10]



Bottom Line

Medical and dental x-rays could be significant in determining the proper diagnosis and efficient course of treatment for many diseases and traumatic injuries. But they only should be performed when an appropriate healthcare professional has determined they would provide critical information. If there is no medical necessity that is evident, then I believe that routine and frequent exposure to low-dose radiation from these x-rays is potentially cancer producing months or decades after the accumulation of exposures. You must be proactive in your healthcare decisions. Do your research.














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“If You Are Holistic,
Why Do You Take Dental X-Rays?”

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Nutritional Periodontist
November 14, 2016 [printfriendly]



holisicOver the past several weeks, two potential patients called my office with basically the same questions: “If Dr. Danenberg is holistic, why does he take dental x-rays?” My receptionist had the right answer.


She explained to the callers, “Dr. Danenberg is holistic, and the office only takes necessary dental x-rays when Dr. Danenberg needs to see what he otherwise could not see inside your teeth and inside your jawbone.”


First, I explain the meaning of holistic, and then I describe dental x-rays and dental radiation.



Holistic dentistry is not a recognized specialty of dentistry; it is a philosophy of how dentistry is practiced. There also is no formal definition that is accepted for holistic dentistry.


For me, holistic dentistry means taking into account a person’s entire state of health. In my mind, all medicine should consider all factors including the environment that affect their patients’ health. I believe nutrition and lifestyle are critical for health. Our primal ancestors, who evolved over 2.5 million years, developed strong, healthy bodies because of their diet and lifestyle. A nutrient-dense diet and active lifestyle support a strong immune system, which in turn prevents many diseases.


Holistic dentists primarily use natural therapies in combination with conventional ones to prevent, diagnose, and treat dental diseases. Dentists with a holistic philosophy oppose the use of amalgam and other toxic materials to repair teeth. These dentists prefer nonsurgical approaches to surgical procedures where possible to treat dental diseases.


Dental X-Rays

To explain the importance of necessary dental x-rays, let me start with an analogy:


If you had a problem with your car, and you took it to your auto mechanic, you probably would ask him what was wrong. The mechanic would most likely tell you, “I need to look under the hood.” But, what would happen if your response were, “No. I don’t want you to open the hood.” How could the mechanic find out what was wrong if he could not look inside the guts of the car? How could he attempt to fix your car problem if he could not see what he needed to see?”


Let me go back to your dental problem. If you came to me with a problem in your mouth, I might suggest that I need to take some necessary x-rays to see what I cannot see with my naked eyes. If you said I couldn’t take the x-ray, I would not be able to see the problem in your bone or inside your tooth. An x-ray would be the only way for me to see what I need to see in the area in question.


Dental Radiation

We are exposed to natural radiation from the sun everyday. If you had 4 dental x-rays taken, the radiation would be less than one day of natural background radiation you would receive on average depending where you live. Similarly, these x-rays would result in about the same amount of radiation exposure you might get from an airplane flight lasting about two hours. To further reduce exposure from dental radiation, proper shields are placed on patients when x-rays are taken. The fact is that in all of medicine, dental x-rays produce one of the lowest exposures to radiation.


I Do What My Patients Need

I treat my patients holistically, which means I treat my patients as a whole person. Each cell of our body affects every other cell in the body. Because of this, I know that it is critical to help every cell in the body to survive and thrive. To help me know what I need to know as a periodontist, I must look deeply enough to see what is happening. That often will require me to take necessary x-rays to see what I cannot see otherwise. Necessary x-rays allow me to develop the least invasive and natural treatment I can offer my patient to arrive at a healthy result.




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Dental X-Rays Aren’t Everything

   Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS            December 30, 2015


Dental x-raysDental X-rays tell an important story, but they aren’t everything. I use x-rays when I examine my periodontal patients. X-rays show how much jawbone has been damaged, but they can’t tell me whether the disease is active or whether the disease has already been treated.


The only way to diagnose the extent of active gum disease is to have a dental professional do a thorough exam. This includes:

  • Measuring the depths of the gum pockets around all the teeth in the entire mouth
  • Identifying all the sites where the gum around the teeth is bleeding
  • Determining if any teeth are loose
  • Exploring the obvious causes of this active infection
  • Investigating the patient’s overall mouth health and body health


In addition, I believe there are not-so-obvious causes that I need to uncover. For example, I need to know:

  • If there are any foods the patient is eating that might cause chronic inflammation
  • If there are specific healthy foods the patient needs to eat to enhance his or her immune system
  • If there are lifestyle changes that must be encouraged to improve the patient’s overall well-being


Along with this information, I study the x-rays. X-rays of all the teeth will show me the amount of existing bone that surrounds the teeth. This bone will be required to support the teeth in normal functions of chewing and talking. I also will look for signs of tooth-grinding habits that may have damaged jawbone.


For my patients, diagnosis of disease is important. X-rays are an important tool, but I cannot diagnose active gum disease from x-rays alone.