When you are pregnant, your health, and the health of your baby, become your first priority. For years, dental X-rays during pregnancy were thought to pose a huge health risk for the unborn baby. However, we wanted to take some time to explain the dangers of this myth!
Fact or Fiction: Dental X-rays are Dangerous During Pregnancy
Dental X-rays are not dangerous during pregnancy. In fact, dentists will always recommend undergoing an X-ray if there is a need. Not only are X-rays safe for the mother and unborn baby but they can also protect against childbirth complications that arise from untreated dental diseases!
Oral Diseases and Pregnancy
When a woman becomes pregnant, she experiences a huge surge in hormones. These hormones often cause the gums to swell and bleed. This means that it is easier for food to get trapped between the gums and it is harder to brush away food particles. This increases a pregnant woman’s chance of gum disease. Unfortunately, if gum disease is left untreated, it can lead to preterm birth!
Currently, almost 40 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. have some form of periodontal disease. The bacteria in the mother’s mouth can get into her bloodstream and cause many complications for the baby. Many studies have shown a link between gum infection and preterm delivery and low birth weight babies.
However, when a pregnant woman undergoes a dental X-ray, her dentist can quickly check for and treat gum diseases to protect the baby.
Dental X-rays: Low Radiation Emission
The main cause for concern with dental X-rays and pregnant women is the radiation to which the baby is exposed. Unfortunately, there have been studies that suggest exposing an unborn fetus to more than 10 rads (unit of measurement for radiation absorption) is linked to mental retardation or eye abnormalities. However, it’s extremely rare for a single X-ray or even a number of X-rays to exceed 5 rads.
The amount of rads that an unborn child is exposed to during one X-ray is .01 millirads. Just to give you an idea of how little .01 millirads is- natural radiation from the sun and earth expose your baby to 90-100 millirads over the course of a pregnancy!
Safety Measures for Undergoing X-rays During Pregnancy
While X-rays are safe for pregnant women, there are a number of safety precautions that we always take. For example, if you must undergo a dental X-ray always inform your dentist that you are pregnant. Always wear a leaded apron and collar to protect you and the baby from radiation. If there is a dental emergency, do not delay treatment. However, if you wish to undergo elective procedures like teeth whitening, it is best to wait until after pregnancy. Additionally, the fetus undergoes important development during the first trimester and 2nd half of the third trimester. Always try to have all dental work and X-rays done during the 2nd trimester to protect the baby.
If you are pregnant and want to know more about the safety of undergoing dental X-rays, visit us at Alliance Family Dental or call us at (910) 868-4664!