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Are Dental X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy? 7 Things You Need To Know

Advanced dental X-ray machine

Although your body is undergoing incredible changes during pregnancy, that doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of your teeth. Taking great care of your teeth during pregnancy is vital to avoiding problems like gingivitis. If you go for regular dental checkups, you’ll likely need X-rays at some stage.

1. Are Dental X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?

Absolutely! Dental X-rays use a very low level of radiation, which is safe for both pregnant women and their babies, according to the American Dental Association and the American Pregnancy Association. In addition, an additional layer of protection in the form of a special coat or apron makes the process even safer. Although having dental X-rays is safe for pregnant women, there are other elements you should consider as you prepare your dental plan during pregnancy.

You may remember when you had to get dental X-rays, and the dentist or hygienist draped a heavy apron over your body before turning on the machine.

This lead apron protects you from radiation during X-rays. Moreover, the apron is long enough to cover the abdomen and protect a baby during an X-ray. If everything progresses as planned, you will only be on the machine for a  minute or two.

2. What Are Dental X-Rays?

Before we discuss whether dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy, let’s quickly go over what diagnostic X-rays are and how they work. An X-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate most physical objects, including the human body. When X-rays travel through your body and hit an X-ray detector on the other side, an image appears of the “shadows” formed by objects inside you.

Since bones and teeth are dense, they produce a high contrast on X-ray film or digital images. Holes in your bones or cavities in your teeth will show up as gray shadows. In addition to diagnosing broken bones, X-rays can also detect dental problems like tooth decay or gum disease, which may then need additional treatment.

3. Why Do Pregnant Women Need Dental X-Rays?

An estimated 40 percent of pregnant women have gum disease, which can be harmful to both mother and child if left untreated. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, it can cause a myriad of complications. Some research suggests that gum infections may be linked to premature delivery, though more studies need to be conducted.

4. Don't Worry About The Radiation

Many women avoid dental X-rays because they fear radiation exposure. The only part of your body that will be exposed to radiation during the x-ray is your teeth. You and your baby will also be protected by a lead apron. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, dental X-rays aren’t intense enough to damage an embryo or fetus.

5. Can You Get a Dental X-Ray While You Are Nursing?

Many new mothers are afraid of radiation from an X-ray entering their breast milk. Although some worry that dental X-rays may not be safe for pregnant women, they are perfectly fine. The same is true for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. If you are breastfeeding, rest assured that experts say it is safe for you to get a dental X-ray. Radiation from an X-ray will not stay in your breast milk after the scan, so that it won’t harm your baby.

6. What Does The Research Say About Radiation Exposure While Pregnant?

We all know that too much radiation exposure during pregnancy can be harmful to a developing baby. Standard dental X-rays give off .02mSV radiation. Unless you or your child are exposed to at least 2,500 times this amount, it will not be harmful. Keep in mind that the tiny bit of radiation will only affect your mouth, not the baby.

7. You Can Wait Until After The Delivery

If you’re feeling uneasy about X-rays during pregnancy, you can wait until after the baby is born. Be sure to tell your dentist if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or think you might be pregnant. If you want to protect your reproductive organs from scattered radiation, tell your dentist, who will then provide you with a lead apron.

X-ray radiation is irrelevant to whether you’re pregnant or not and goes for men and women. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, lead aprons lower exposure to X-ray radiation by more than 90%. According to the American Dental Association, some of the most vulnerable people who should use a lead thyroid collar during dental X-rays are children, pregnant women, and women of childbearing age.

Final Thoughts

True Dental Care Of Bloomfield knows that taking care of your oral health is a crucial part of preventive care, especially during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, ask our general dentist in Bloomfield NJ about the pros and cons of getting dental X-rays as part of your regular preventive care visit.

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