Are Dental X-rays Safe for Pregnant Women?

When one is pregnant even the smallest and the most routine task in our daily life makes one question -Is it safe for the baby? Whether it is eating a particular food item or taking a medicine or doing a particular exercise. Pregnancy time comes with a lot of dos and don’ts. And if you are pregnant for the first time this is a difficult path to navigate. Thanks to the internet a lot of good information is available at the tip of the hands or click of the mouse. While we advise you to take everything you read on the net with a pinch of salt (not everything on the net is correct) so always consult your doctor before following anything during pregnancy. 

One such questions which we get asked pretty often is – Are dental X-rays safe for pregnant women? In the blog we hope to answer this frequently asked question.  

Pregnancy and dental care 

Pregnancy is a challenging time for mothers to be. Their bodies are undergoing transformation like never before and the growing baby in the womb demands a lot of nutrition from the mother. Women need to follow better oral hygiene during pregnancy. Morning sickness and sugar cravings can lead to more tooth decay in pregnancy than otherwise. Also, the pregnancy hormones make some women more vulnerable to gum diseases. Read more in our blog Dental Care during Pregnancy. 

Are dental X-rays important or necessary? 

All X-rays be it dental or otherwise are diagnostic tools employed by the doctor to better assess the problem at hand hence yes, they are important as they can give life saving information to the doctor about the patient’s medical situation.   

Are dental X-rays safe during pregnancy? 

This is a difficult question to answer. As per American Academy of Family Physicians X-rays are generally safe during pregnancy. The fears about X-rays originates from the effects of radiation. Very high levels of radiation carry risks like miscarriage, birth defects, and some cancers. But people who get exposed to such high levels only during medical treatments like the treatment for cancer. Scientists have studied pregnant women and children who were affected by the bombs dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Their conclusion is that you need a high dose of radiation exposure for it to be harmful to the baby and a dental X-ray comes nowhere close to it. The dose of radiation during a dental x-ray is comparatively very low. Please note that in a dental X-ray the radiation exposure is 0.02mSV and one needs to be exposed more than 2500 times this amount in order for it to be harmful to you or your baby.  

However there have been many studies which have presented conflicting views about this. Some studies have however linked dental X-rays to low birth weight in the baby.  

Good news is that modern technology in radiology has ensured that there is hardly any exposure to radiation during dental X-rays. Hence these pose very little risk to the growing fetus.  

So what should I do?  

Ideally, in case of a planned pregnancy we would suggest, you to go for a full dental checkup prior to getting pregnant. But we have been told many times that women go in for dental X-rays not knowing they are pregnant. So the next best thing to do in such cases is that if you suspect you may be pregnant, make sure you inform the dentist and they will take additional precautions like covering up the belly to minimize the radiation exposure if a dental X-ray is really needed. American Dental Association advises pregnant women to avoid elective dental X-rays until post-delivery. So try and avoid dental X-rays unless absolutely necessary. 

It is important for pregnant women to take extra care of their teeth for the reasons listed earlier. So do not avoid going to the dentist if your having tooth decay or gum problems. Regular dental treatments like cleaning of teeth are absolutely safe during every trimester. In fact, the second trimester is considered one of the safest periods to undergo any dental treatment. Do not defer your routine dental treatments till a later date like after delivery as these may compound problems for you.  

If you are planning some major dental work which is elective then wait for the birth of the child to undergo the same.  

What do I do if I did not know I was pregnant and got an X-ray done? 

First and foremost, do not be alarmed and do not panic. Most X-rays as discussed above especially dental X-rays are not harmful but if you still have concerns and doubts, we suggest you speak to your family physician and discuss those concerns. They will able help you get over this anxiety. 

Can I get a dental X-ray postdelivery while nursing? 

Experts believe it is safe to undergo a dental X-ray while breastfeeding and there are no studies to suggest radiation affecting breastmilk. 

We hope we have been able to answer your question about the safety of dental X-rays as succinctly as possible. Pregnancy is a special time and while you take care of the baby growing inside you, do not forget to take care of your own needs. Dental Care during pregnancy is as important as taking care of your body during pregnancy. 

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If you have any dental queries, you can always call Ensure Dental Care on 940-274-3229 for more information or to schedule an appointment. We are the family dentist near you. Ensure Dental Care is the one of the best dentist in Saginaw Texas. We accept all major insurance providers. We also have in house payment plan. We have a very experienced and professional team of dental practitioners and we look forward to serving you to the best of our abilities.