Are Dental X-Rays + CT Scans Safe? + Ayurvedic Herbs for DNA Repair

Are Dental X-Rays + CT Scans Safe? + Ayurvedic Herbs for DNA Repair

In This Article

How do you feel about X-rays and CT scans? 

While most of us have learned to accept X-rays and CT scans as a necessary evil required to get a thorough medical exam, in some cases the risks may outweigh the benefits. 

Each year, a whopping 72 million CT scans are performed in the United States and, according to the National Cancer Institute, they could potentially lead to as many as 29,000 future cancers.1 To make matters worse, as many as 44% of them are determined to have been ordered inappropriately or unnecessarily.2 

While many advances have been made to lower radiation exposure from X-rays (including dental) and CT scans, compelling evidence suggests radiation accumulates, and may have lasting detrimental effects.  

In 2013, The British Medical Journal published a study that followed 1 million people from birth into young adulthood and found that the group that had CT scans had a 24% increased risk of developing cancer compared to the group that did not get scans.3 

Sadly, the more scans one had, the greater the risk and, tragically, the risk persisted for years. Compared to folks who did not get a CT scan, the risks were as follows: 

Cancer Risks from CT Scans 

  • 35% higher risk in first four years following exposure 
  • 25% higher risk in five to nine years following exposure 
  • 14% higher risk in 10-14 years following exposure 

While X-ray imaging techniques can diagnose a host of life-threatening conditions, these new findings should encourage us to consult doctors regarding risk versus reward. This is particularly important because surveys show 35% of CT scans are prescribed by doctors out of fear of a lawsuit4, and only 9% of emergency room doctors were even aware CT scans increase cancer risk.5 

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?  

Radiation from a dental X-ray is considerably lower today compared to older machines, but a new study in the journal Cancer shows people exposed to annual dental X-rays are twice as likely to develop a type of brain tumor called a meningioma, which is usually benign, although does require brain surgery.6 

I have never met a dentist who wasn’t totally adamant about getting dental X-rays, and each one was certain that there was no risk—no worse than a plane flight. Maybe printing the following conclusion from the authors of the 2012 Journal of Cancer study may change your dentist’s mind: 

happy teeth image

“There is little evidence to support the use of dental X-rays in search of occult pathologies in asymptomatic patients or routine dental radiographs at preset intervals for all patients. Although dental X-rays are an important too in well-selected patients, efforts to moderate exposure to ionizing radiation to the head is likely to be of benefit to the patients and health care providers alike.”6 

In a 2018 review of 2,158 studies of which 21 meet the criteria for this thorough evaluation on the safety of dental x-rays. The review concluded the following:15 

  1. In brain tumor studies, the association between dental X-ray exposure and meningioma was statistically significant in 5 of the 7 studies.  
  2. In 4 of the 5 thyroid-related studies, there was a significant correlation with dental diagnostic X-rays.  
  3. In studies on head and neck areas, tumors included laryngeal, parotid gland, and salivary gland cancers. There was also a statistically significant correlation between full-mouth X-rays and salivary gland cancer, but not parotid gland cancer. Health outcomes such as leukemia, low birth weight, cataracts, and thumb carcinomas were also reported.  

The study concluded that, “Considering the lifetime frequency of exposure to dental diagnostic X-rays, even a slight increase in health risk would be of considerable public health importance.”15 

In another review of 5,537 studies evaluating the safety of routine dental x-rays, 26 studies which included 10,868 cancer patients qualified to be included. This meta-analyses, based on seven studies of thyroid cancer and eight studies of meningioma showed that multiple (or repeated) exposures to dental X-rays were significantly associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer and meningioma.16 This study concluded that, “Considering that about one-third of the general population in developed countries is routinely exposed to one or more dental X-rays per year, these findings manifest the need to reduce diagnostic radiation exposure as much as possible.”16 

DNA Repair 

The mechanism for the damage ensued by radiation is related to DNA damage in the nucleus of the cell. When cells are irradiated, a number of DNA-breaking compounds (called clastogenic factors) are formed. These factors are linked to a type of free radical damage that breaks DNA strands and can lead to cancer. Such factors can linger in the body, causing damage for many years. Thirty years after the atom bomb went off in Japan, clastogenic factors were still detectable. 

One strategy to offset this damage is to increase intake of foods and nutrients known to help repair DNA. Eating blueberries 7, supplementing with spirulina 8, and drinking lemon balm tea 9 before and after a required X-ray or CT scan may help protect the nucleus of the cell. 

turmeric-plus_curcumin-longa-background_340 spring march seasonal eating

Turmeric  is shown in many studies to support the body’s natural response to low-level radiation exposure.11 In other studies, constituent factors of turmeric, specifically curcumin, were shown to have radioprotective effects on a cellular level.12 

Shilajit, (LifeSpa’s Regenerate)  another Ayurvedic herb known to protect the body’s cells from oxidation damage, was found in one study to support ovarian cell response to radiation-induced apoptosis.13, 14 According to Ayurveda, shilajit is the most powerful longevity herb, as it helps protect cells from damage and premature aging.13 


Tulsi Holy Basil has also been found to support the body’s natural response to oxidizing radiation. Extracts of tulsi (not captured in the tea) that include the  flavanoids orientin and vicenin, and eugenol free support the body’s  radical scavenging, antioxidant, metal chelating and a health inflammation response may contribute toward the observed radio protective effects.17 

Iodine (LifeSpa’s Iodine HP) – One study concluded that, “the elimination of iodine deficiency in areas affected by Chernobyl may be important in reducing the effects of radiation exposure on the thyroid.18 Potassium iodide is well known to protect the thyroid from radiation exposure. Making sure you are not deficient in Iodine is the key according the research done after Chernobyl.18,19

What to Take Before + After Your X-Ray or CT Scan 

How do you feel about X-rays and CT scans? What do you do to protect yourself? 

We recommend "The Complete Guide to Iodine Deficiency":

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Dr. John


  1. Scientific American: Storrs C. How Much Do CT scans Increase the Risk of Cancer? Sci Am. 2013 Jul;309(1)30-2 


29 thoughts on “Are Dental X-Rays + CT Scans Safe? + Ayurvedic Herbs for DNA Repair”

  1. Thank you so much for bringing this to light!! How much Tumeric should one take before/after dental x-rays? What about children’s dosages? I do my best to avoid the xrays and put them off quite a bit, but in the end I am faced with losing a dentist if I don’t submit. I wonder how much extra insurance money comes with the xrays…..

    • I lost my DDS as I refused x-rays. I searched and finally found a DDS who would accept caring for me. I have never had a filling, or cavity, and no pain in mouth. I take good care. I won’t use toothpaste (full of toxins) either which was a problem for me as I am celiac, and skin and gums and bones are at risk from many toxins. A hard road to follow but the rewards are huge and dentists will learn about all this in time.

  2. Great info dear John as always and truly appreciate your SERVICE of sharing your hard earned/acquired WISDOM so freely.

  3. I too am very leary about X-rays and try to avoid or at least minimize X-rays for my kids and myself. I drive my dentist nuts and I do thermography instead of a mammogram.

    My son however hurt his arm and is a baseball player and since April he’s had multiple X-rays, 1 MRI with dye and 1 MRI without dye plus X-rays that went with the dye injection and a CT Scan and a surgery in November. Ugh ugh. I’m worried but don’t know what to do to support his system after this barrage of radiation. Please share your thoughts and recommendations.

  4. I am a hygienist and am happy to read this article. Our office is very conservative with radiation. The ADA itself is also much more conservative in their recommendations than what most offices do as routine. I would recommend that people bring in a copy of the ADA statement on radiation when they go to their dentist. It would work to the patient’s advantage and might encourage the dentist to rethink the approach that the office takes. Unfortunately, insurance reimburses well for frequent xrays. The bottom line for too many practitioners.

  5. It’s difficult to find dentists who don’t harass the crap out of you if you don’t want x-rays. If I don’t have tooth pain, then I don’t get x-rays. It’s the end of the subject. I haven’t had a cavity or a filling replaced in decades. If I get some tooth pain, I swish and spit some hydrogen peroxide and start chewing xylitol gum. The pain goes right away. I would like to find an ethical dentist who practices wholistic dentistry.

  6. Additionally – XRay does not pick up low grade infections which are a big problem. Thermal imaging, a safe technique, is helpful to assess for oral inflammation.

  7. How many (just guess) days prior to a multi phase CT chest scan should a person take lemon balm tea?or other preventive plants? Just trying to prepare my 5 year old daughter from radiation damage, to build her body’s strength(as much as I can)…thanks so much for your time!:)

  8. Dear Dr. John,

    I am in total agreement with your statements and this video. I am, myself a medical doctor. Recently my husband has done an OPG in Hungary. The dentist has proposed him to put two implants. There was no even any suggestion to treat etc. My husband is a 52 years old man. I personally did not see any signs of inflammation on the X-Ray. After, we have showed the X-Ray here in Mumbai, where we currently live due to the working circumstances. The indian very experienced dentist also said there is need to put implants. Being a medical doctor I do believe that you can put implants only at the last stage, when other options are not applicable. But, how you can put implants, when you do not have cavity, no any symptoms, and moreover not any signs of inflamation on the X-Ray… The issue is that my husband now doubts and wants to do dental CT. I will show him today your video and will need to convince him do not do the CT. Your opinionated feedback will be highly appreciated.

    Regards,, MSc., Rudoba Rahim

  9. Just a note of concern. If one is planning on getting dental implants please consider going their first to do any necessary x-rays. I went to my dentist first in which they took 17 digital x-rays along with a panaramic. Being convinced this would surfice for my dental implants. When I went for my consultation
    I was told I would need a complete CT scan.
    Now, I’m reconsidering getting the implants due to many X-rays in such a short time. If I would of known, I would of opted out of all the dental X-rays. Reading more and more about the concerns of possibly cancers it has really made me think twice about getting radiated even more. Hope this helps someone in their decisions when having dental X-rays which is ionizing to surrounding areas.

  10. I had a dental cat scan about a year ago. Within a period of 6 months I lost four good teeth, three of which had veneers on them. Even while eating soft foods on a couple of them. The scan lasted about ten minutes. The scanner makes a full rotation about every thirty seconds. That indicates that each tooth was scanned about twenty times. That is cause enough for suspicion as far as I am concerned.
    I was also told that implants for the lost teeth would require sinus treatments and bonegrafts. Each impant woud cost around $3500.00. The name of the dental group is Affordable Dentistry. Give me a break!

  11. Do research to make sure you know what you ought to be able to expect with the CT scan experience, if you must receive one. My husband and I went to an endodontist in Gainesville, Florida, last weekend and the CT scans we received were the most uncomfortable dental experiences we have ever had. We was made to sit on a stool, throw back the head and cock it to one side (so that (in some of the x-rays only the tip of one eye tooth touched the plastic tray with the lip on it, and not much more tooth surface of my bottom teeth touching). We were then was made to thrust the torso forward extremely, into a painful nearly anatomical impossible position, and to stretch the neck and head up so high that it lifted the body a few inches off the stool. Impossible, so we’d lurch and stagger to try to get our balance, only for the “technician” to be frustrated, chide us, and to put us in that position again. I asked if there was some other way I could position any part of my body in order to be able to be more comfortable and be able to hold the position and keep still. She said fiercely and emphatically that there was no other way. And she acted cavalierly and as if she didn’t have time to mess with it. Neither my husband nor I have unusual anatomy, and in fact we are very different in size and weight and had different teeth being x-rayed, but we both had the same experience. The technician was just the front office clerk who had no experience (my husband later said she was being trained on us and it seemed like he was her first patient, and although she had someone over her schooling her when he was x-rayed (she said the teacher and student sounded like an echo because the student didn’t know anything or even how to instruct the patient), no one was around when she x-rayed me next.) She did not tell me what to expect from the procedure or from the machine, which was horribly frustrating because I felt I needed that in order to better school my mind After a few botched x-rays, she tried to tell me what to expect, but just told me to listen for the beep that meant the x-ray was starting. However, it didn’t happen how she said it would. Just when I thought it was over and would let down my guard a little, the machine powered up again and this happened a few times. I think I got more CT scans than I ought to have gotten. She never adequately told me what to expect and I remained confused about when the machine was taking pictures and when it was not . I was shaking violently trying to hold myself in that awkward position for so long, and once my one upper tooth that was anchored over the lip of the ledge slid off and there was nothing I could do about it. I had tried as hard as I could to keep it there. Having slipped off anyway, I turned around in the middle of that scan in intense frustration and the “technician” looked horrified. She quickly re-positioned me, observed me, and said, “You are not in the right position.” I expected her to re-adjust me, but suddenly she was taking the x-ray and repeating, “You are not in the right position, but we will just hope for the best.” I was so furious I feared to speak for fear that I would act in a manner unseemly. The “technician” (read front office clerk) never stood behind glass to protect herself, but stook right behind me operating the machine So that office is clueless about the cancer risk of radiation. Do your research beforehand to learn what you should expect so that you don’t get ripped off like we were, and don’t let them put you off and try to rush you when you want to ask them questions. The doctor and the x-ray technicians all made if very clear they didn’t want us to speak.

  12. Sorry, I typed “was” instead of” were.” “She” instead of “he”, ” anatomical” instead of “anatomically,” and so on. Wish I had done a better edit, but I have a raging abscessed tooth to be cared for by a different dentist.

  13. I wonder what you think about using Chaga mushroom tincture for protection from scans, x-rays and radiation therapies? What about skin protection from UV sunlight exposure? Would daily use increase risk of vitamin D deficiency?
    Thank you for all your work,

    • Hi Sue,

      I am a fan of chaga, but I have not seen the studies on it for radiation protection or it’s effect on vitamin D.

      Be Well,
      Dr. John

  14. This is quite a dilemma. I’m going through cancer treatment after abdominal surgery. CT scans are required when there is a suspected blood clot (chemo can cause breathing problems that might mimic having a PE). Having a port for chemo can cause blood clots. Having pain in the abdomen or chest usually calls for a CT scan to see if there is cancer growing or a stricture that is causing a blockage. There are trade offs one must make but the sad thing is all these things create a risk for more cancer. We try to minimize these tests at the same time they can help save lives. I am using a very robust herbal protocol that I’ve used before and during chemo. Hopefully this will help mitigate any harm from the CTs.

  15. What about intravenuos clouding substances? Can you get out stuff like fluoride-isotopes from the body. Are they something to worry about? I don’t know if they use iodine instead.

  16. WOW! Thank you for this article. It came just in time. I’m having a dental X-ray done on Monday and I have been stewing over what herbs and supplements to take. This is very helpful and it reminded me of somethings that I already knew. The problem for me is they have protective aprons for the patients, but they don’t have anything that protects the head. What to do fro that?

  17. The figures in those studies speak for themselves and are very concerning. However, I would like to know what you think of the hormesis idea, the idea that a minute dose of something stimulates the body to build defenses against it. In this idea, small doses of radiation would be good for the body. I am not pushing this forward or saying it’s good. I’m just trying to find out what you think of it.

  18. Not sure that you’ll see this as this article is a few years old, but I will give it a try.
    As a result of x-ray treatment when I was about 3 years old, (x-rays to head and neck because I had tonsillitis, lots of colds) I have nodular thyroid disease and have had many basal cell carcinomas removed. What would you recommend for damage that occurred many years ago?


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