Dental X-rays linked to brain tumors

Here's a quick and easy way to up your tumor risk: Visit the dentist!

Dentists shoot radiation at anything that moves. They call it a "routine" X-ray despite the fact that there shouldn't be anything routine about exposure to radiation.

Now, a new study shows why -- because people who get suckered into "routine" annual dental X-rays have a dramatically higher risk of brain tumors.

Researchers from a who's who of top institutions -- including Yale and Harvard -- say data on nearly 2,700 people finds that yearly bitewing X-rays double the risk of meningioma, or a tumor in the lining of the brain.

Worse still, those who got regular panorex dental exams starting from age 10 or younger had five times the tumor risk.

But this is another one you can file under "obvious and unsurprising." In fact, you can even file it under "best-case scenario," because at least meningioma tumors are nonmalignant and often cause no problems.

Many of the people who have them don't even know it.

But dental X-rays can also dramatically raise the risk of all kinds of other tumors, including the cancerous tumors than can hurt or even kill you.

One study found that 10 or more dental X-rays over the course of a lifetime boosts the risk of thyroid cancer by 5.4 times when compared to people who avoid getting zapped.

But do we really need more research to know that radiation brings all kinds of bad news? It's RADIATION, after all -- and any exposure comes with risk. Even Homer Simpson knows that.

If you do need a dentist -- and we all do from time to time -- find one who won't use fluoride or mercury and will limit the X-rays to only when you really need them.

Along with a lead apron, make sure the dentist provides a thyroid collar (and if your dentist doesn't have one, find a dentist who does).

And limit your time with the dentist by caring for your teeth the Douglass way: Skip the toothpaste and mix plain old baking soda with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Work it into your teeth and gums with your fingertips, and rinse with the peroxide.

You'll have the best smile in town.

I'm not done with teeth yet -- and if you wear dentures, I've got news for you. Keep reading!