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Is It Safe to Get Dental X-Rays While Pregnant?

Dentist discussing with his female patient and showing her x-ray scans
Author: Posted: October 1st, 2021 Category:

It’s a common misconception that dental x-rays are dangerous for pregnant women. The surge of pregnancy hormones actually make you more susceptible to gum disease, thus increasing the necessity of dental x-rays.

If you’re pregnant, you may have heard the common misconception that getting dental x-rays while pregnant is dangerous for the fetus. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Dental Association, and the American College of Radiology all agree that it is generally safe to get x-rays while pregnant.

In general, the benefits of getting a dental x-ray outweigh any potential side effects. Receiving dental x-rays while pregnant can provide critical information about your dental health, helping you avoid childbirth complications caused by untreated dental issues.

The Benefits of Getting Dental X-Rays

Getting a dental x-ray, or radiograph, can help your dentist accurately diagnose and treat:

  • Oral disease
  • Infections below the gums
  • Bone loss
  • Impacted teeth
  • Tooth decay located between teeth or beneath fillings
  • Cysts
  • Some types of tumors

Your dentist may perform a bitewing x-ray, an occlusal x-ray, a panoramic x-ray, or a periapical x-ray to gain a better understanding of your dental health. By getting an x-ray, you can treat dental issues early and save yourself from any worsening symptoms or expensive dental procedures in the future.

Whether you’re pregnant or not, it’s important to get dental x-rays. In fact, if you’re expecting, it’s even more crucial to get these x-rays. During pregnancy, women experience a surge in hormones, increasing the risk of gum disease. This influx in hormones can cause gums to swell and bleed, trapping more food between the teeth and gums.

Consequently, pregnant women experience gingivitis and gum disease — which has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight babies — at a higher rate than the rest of the population, according to the American Dental Association. Additionally, if gum infections are left untreated, bacteria can enter your bloodstream and directly affect the fetus.

Fortunately, x-rays have very low radiation emissions, making them generally safe for pregnant women. After all, dental x-rays are directed toward your teeth, so your reproductive organs won’t be directly exposed to radiation, and your fetus will only be exposed to 0.01 millirads of radiation during a single x-ray. To provide some context, the fetus will be exposed to 90-100 millirads of radiation throughout your pregnancy just from the radiation that the sun and earth emit naturally.

Safety Precautions

While getting dental x-rays during pregnancy is perfectly safe, it’s still important to follow some general safety precautions, as x-rays involve electromagnetic radiation. Make sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant, and wear a lead apron and a thyroid collar for radiation protection during the x-ray scan. If possible, opt for a digital x-ray rather than a traditional film x-ray, as getting a digital x-ray will minimize your radiation exposure.

While it’s vital to get any necessary dental-x-rays, wait to undergo cosmetic and elective procedures, such as teeth whitening, until you are no longer pregnant. Essential development in the fetus occurs during the first trimester and the second half of the third trimester, so it’s best to schedule your dental work and x-rays during your second trimester.

Schedule An X-Ray

If you need to get an x-ray, visit one of Espire’s locations. Staffed by experts that specialize in treating a variety of dental problems, Espire puts patients’ comfort and safety first. Espire uses a digital x-ray system to save time and reduce patients’ exposure to radiation. Believe it or not, taking a walk on a sunny day will expose patients to more radiation than getting a digital x-ray at Espire.

Contact us today to schedule your appointment!