Digital X-Rays: Protection
Digital Dental X-Rays and Protection
As your dental providers, we take appropriate digital x-rays to detect and diagnose dental problems as directed under PA Standard of Care. All new patients will require a Full Mouth Series. The Full Mouth Series is valid for about 4 years so if you have one to transfer from a previous dentist, we can use that. Bitewing X-rays are a more zoomed in, straight on view, looking specifically in between your teeth for starting cavities, and should be taken once a year. We are aware that even with our digital sensor technology and state of the art radiation protection, x-rays are still ionizing radiation, and we want our patients to be informed, and protected to the best of our ability.
Understanding Dental X-Rays
The five types of dental x-rays we have are:
1. Full Mouth Series (abbreviated FMX)
2. Bitewings (abbreviated BW's)
3. Periapical Film (abbreviated PA)
4. Panoramic Film (abbreviated Pano)
5. 3D Cone Beam Computed Tomography (abbreviated CBCT or Cone Beam)
Full Mouth Series - The Full Mouth Series is taken once every 3-5 years as per Pennsylvania Standard of Care and consists of 18 films - 14 PA's and 4 bitewings. The 14 PA's show the base of the tooth, the root, and surrounding bone. The 4 bitewing images are part of the full mouth series and are needed to look for things like cavities between the teeth.
Bitewings - Once a patient has a full mouth series on file, bitewings are taken once a year (usually by their hygienist) as "check-up x-rays", and are viewing the interproximal areas (between teeth) to identify decay/cavities, deterioration of margins of crowns/restorations, etc. Bitewings capture both the top and bottom teeth in one image but do not ever see the roots. Since x-rays are 2-dimensional pictures of 3-dimensional objects, it is helpful that the full mouth series presents more than one angle of each tooth.
Periapical Films - Individual PA’s view the part of the tooth you can not see in the mouth, the root. They provide information regarding a specific dental problem, like a broken tooth or suspected abscess (infection), and are taken on an as-needed basis.
Panoramic Films - Panoramic films do not have a recommended interval for adults. They are utilized in certain situations when PA’s or bitewings will not work: ie capturing an image of wisdom teeth, checking for large bone abnormalities, confirming bone density prior to implant placement, addressing TMJ or sinus issues, identifying incipient abscesses, or providing an overview of root canalled teeth. Pano's are a great overview of the mouth and can help visualize areas where the intra-oral sensor could never reach, but the Pano is too zoomed out to pick up tiny things, which is why they do not replace the full mouth series. NOTE: Many integrative health providers who refer clients to our biologic dental practice request a panoramic film which they then incorporate into various methods of whole-body screening.
3D Cone Beam - A cone beam solves the problem of a 2D image (X-ray) of a 3D object (your tooth). The machine works exactly like a panoramic film, but produces an image of all of your teeth in 3-dimensions. It is used to get a definitive look at possible infections, especially on old root canaled teeth. It can also help identify areas of poor bone healing where extractions have occurred. Due to how time intensive it is for the doctor to read, a cone beam is only taken in specific cases when regular dental x-rays are not conclusive.
Digital X-ray Technology
Meetinghouse Dental Care is entirely digital. Digital radiography uses less than half the radiation of traditional speed films while providing even better image quality. Our doctors no longer have to hold the traditional films up into a light and squint to examine the tiny film.
Digital technology at Meetinghouse Dental Care allows us to
(1) keep the radiation exposure low
(2) display films on large overhead screens for you to view
(3) enlarge images, zoom in, and adjust contrast for optimal diagnosis
(4) email films to you or to specialists, preserving crystalline image quality of the original films
Ionizing radiation produced by dental x-rays
Dental x-rays work by producing ionizing radiation, which in turn can cause free radical damage in your body. You have free radicals being produced all the time through normal biologic processes such as eating and breathing. There are also healthy ways to increase free radicals like exercise, and unhealthy ways to produce free radicals like smoking, environmental toxins, stress, and disease.
Excess, unquenched, free radicals can damage cells in organs, glands, muscles, and bones.
Because of occupational exposure, our dental assistants and hygienists are required to step out of the room to press the button that activates the dental x-ray technology (they take 2-3 FMX’s a day vs the 1 FMX a patient receives every 5 years).
For the patient, we provide lead aprons with an attached thyroid collar (although aprons are considered unnecessary with digital technology).
In Dentistry, we use microsievert (µSv) to talk about radiation.
See the chart below for a good idea and comparison of exposure levels.
- One dental PA taken with our digital sensor produces about 5 micro Sv (µSv).
- Four digital Bitewings (checkup) x-rays would be 20 µSv.
- A digital full mouth series (18 pictures) would be 90 µSv.
How Can You Protect Against Free Radical Damage?
Antioxidants, in simple terms, bind to free radicals, neutralizing the reactive oxygen species (ROS) before they can damage tissue. Antioxidant supplements combined with whole food sources can effectively protect against radiation. While supplementation is an excellent way to increase your defenses against free radicals in times of increased need, it is recommended that antioxidants also be obtained on a daily basis through whole food sources of an optimal diet. Ask Anthony for more information or to be scanned to see if your diet is providing your body with a good level of antioxidant protection.
Supplement Sources of Antioxidants
Super Network Antioxidants
Network “super” antioxidants are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, glutathione, and Alpha-Lipoic Acid. These five are called network antioxidants because they recycle each other, donating electrons to restore antioxidant status after quenching a free radical. Because network antioxidants save each other, they form a self-perpetuating, protective cycle.
Vitamin E and CoQ10 are powerful fat-soluble vitamins that target different cells than the potent water-soluble Vitamin C. Vit E and CoQ10 protect the fatty portion of cell membranes from free radicals, for example. Water-soluble Vit C and your body’s natural glutathione, on the other hand, protect the watery portions of cells and the blood. Vitamin E is particularly known for protection against the effects of x-rays, improving anemia following exposure to radiation and preventing x-ray destruction of Vitamin A and fatty acids.
Caution: Not All Vitamin E Supplements Are the Same. We recommend “Unique E” for a proper balance of all 4 naturally occurring tocopherols.
Alpha-Lipoic acid, another network antioxidant, can recycle both fat-soluble and water-soluble network antioxidants. Lipoic acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine can cross the blood-brain barrier and are known to penetrate and protect cell mitochondria.
NOTE: Oral supplementation of glutathione tends to be ineffective because digestive enzymes break down supplemented glutathione before it can be distributed to the cells. Alpha-Lipoic acid recycles the body’s own glutathione, replenishing the body’s supply of glutathione in blood, tissues, and cells. Lipoic acid supplementation is, therefore, the most effective method of boosting glutathione. The trace mineral selenium also maximizes your body’s glutathione production by supporting the body’s production of the enzymes needed to make the glutathione. Again, we do not recommend oral glutathione supplementation.
If you want just one simple, all-encompassing protection source against post x-ray free radicals, we highly recommend chlorella. Chlorella has been intensely studied not only for its ability to neutralize free radicals, but also for its detoxifying ability to neutralize or remove poisonous substances from the body, including cadmium, mercury, dioxin, PCB’s, and xeno-estrogens. Benefits of Chlorella include: (1) protection against free radicals, (2) cleansing of digestive system, (3) support of gut micro-flora, (4) detoxification of heavy metals and PCB’s, (5) cleansing of the blood, (6) assistance in balancing the body's pH, (7) boost of immune system, (8) help with weight loss/maintenance, (9) stimulation of new cell growth, (10) provision of essential vitamins and minerals, (11) assistance in protecting and repairing the nucleic acids (RNA/DNA) of the cells.
Caution: Not All Chlorella Supplements Are the Same. For chlorella to be effective it must be cultivated properly and then made absorbable to the body without destroying its beneficial components. Be certain you have a clean, organic source.
The degree of protection depends on multiple complex factors such as dosage, time of ingestion, bioavailability, retention, radical-quenching profiles of a particular kind and brand of antioxidant in a particular organ or cell, water and fat solubility, ability to penetrate cell mitochondria or cross the blood-brain barrier, etc. Each antioxidant has different abilities and different cells it can reach and protect. We suggest you use combinations of a few of them.
Whole Food Sources of Antioxidants
Flavonoids and Carotenoids
Huge contributors to cell protection are phytonutrients. These include the subclasses carotenoids and flavonoids that are best obtained through the organic, colorful vegetables and fruits in our diets. The deeply colored carotenoids are the sources of the yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, and white colors of vegetables and fruit. Even the green-leafy vegetables contain these colorful pigments, but the strong green color of the chlorophyll masks them. Consistently eat an abundance of and a variety of carotenoid-rich foods. The two of the best phytonutrients for radiation protection are astaxanthin and pycnogenol.
FlavonoidsSources: ginkgo biloba, Pycnogenol, green tea leaves, oranges and other citrus fruits, apples, onions, red grapes, berries, and red wine.
Carotenoids Sources: cooked carrots, pumpkin, oranges, cooked tomatoes, guava, watermelon, pink grapefruit, spinach, collard greens, kale.
Blueberries, black raspberries, blackberries, bilberries, organic strawberries, etc. will be high in the antioxidants capable of providing protection from free radicals. Tomatoes are also excellent, especially cooked tomatoes.
Apples are high in pectin. Pectin has the ability to bind radioactive residues and remove them from the body. Other fruits that contain pectin are guavas, quince, plums, gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits.
NOTE: Always consume organic fruits to avoid pesticides, etc. Always combine fruit with a little protein (even just a few almonds) and healthy fat (coconut oil, etc.) in order to avoid spiking blood sugar levels with fructose. (Fructose is sugar even though it does not show on the glycemic index).
Chlorophyll has a similar structure to blood hemoglobin. A number of studies have found that chlorophyll-rich foods can decrease radiation toxicity. Foods high in chlorophyll include leafy greens like organic spinach, celery, parsley, alfalfa, the sprouts of any grain or bean, the young shoots of any edible grass, such as wheat and barley, and sunflower greens. Chlorella and Spirulina are two micro-algae that are also rich in chlorophyll. Again, your source must be organic.
Onions and Garlic
Cysteine, present in onions, binds with and deactivates not only free radicals produced by x-rays but also toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. The sulfur in cysteine helps the kidneys and liver detoxify the body. Both onions and garlic are rich in selenium as well, the trace mineral that supports your body’s production of glutathione. Selenium is also found in wheat germ, red grapes, broccoli, and eggs. (Buy organic.)
Also called sea vegetables, seaweeds are a great natural source of nutrients and very effective at removing radiation from the body as they contain sodium alginate. There are literally thousands of different types of seaweeds, but some of the most popular are arame, wakame, kombu, hijiki, bladderwrack, rockweed, sea lettuce, and dulse. You can find them in your local health food store and in various oriental grocery stores in your neighborhood in their natural form, or in flakes, flat sheets, and powders. They can be mixed in soups and salads or eaten by themselves. If you don't like the taste of seaweeds, you can find seaweed supplements in capsules or tablets. Be certain you have a clean, organic source of seaweeds.
Miso has been used to treat radiation sickness. It is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans with salt and the fungus, kojikin. Miso is typically made with soy and commonly eaten as miso soup. Miso is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. The soy used in making miso must be organic.
Tumeric and curcuminoids as spices provide antioxidant support.
NOTE: Do NOT boil food. Do NOT cook anything in a microwave. Lightly steam or lightly sauté. Do not use olive oil to cook (olive oil will oxidize at high temperatures). Try cooking with coconut oil. Drizzle olive oil over food after it has cooked. Visit www.TrovatoNutrition.com for more information about good oils and proper usage.
Non Food Sources
Sea Salt and Baking Soda Bath
Add 1 pound of sea salt and 1 pound of baking soda and soak in chlorine-free, filtered water for 20 minutes. Rinse with cool water. You can add 1 pound of betonite, or other clay, to the sea salt and baking soda to increase removal of radiation. Some specialists who work with radioactive isotopes use this method to remove radiation from their bodies.