Are Dental X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?

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Photo: Pregnant WomanIn a word: yes. Since you’re probably looking for a bit more detail, here’s what you should know about dental x-rays during pregnancy, especially if you find you need urgent dental care from Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center.

Types of X-Rays

When we think of x-rays, we usually think “radiation.” The big picture is a bit more nuanced than that, since not all medical x-rays are alike. There are actually two types used in medical practice.

Radiotherapy

There are a number of therapeutic uses of x-rays, with radiation treatments commonly used to treat cancers and certain benign growths. The course of treatment usually involves multiple doses of higher-intensity radiation, with the mode of delivery varying based on the ailment being treated and the kind of treatment chosen. It poses a risk of side effects to the individual being treated and, potentially, to the embryo or fetus. However, these aren’t the kind of x-rays used in dental practice.

Diagnostic Imaging

Dental diagnostic imaging uses a much shorter burst of low-dose radiation that’s highly targeted. A series of dental x-rays can be taken in a matter of minutes, but it covers a smaller area and the duration of the burst is closer to that of a photograph — fractions of a second — versus the longer durations used in radiotherapy.

Protective Measures

You’ve probably had dental x-rays in the past and remember the heavy lead apron we put on you beforehand. Besides the fact that the diagnostic x-ray isn’t targeting your abdomen, the apron provides added protection to you and your unborn child.

Three major medical associations — the American College of Obstetricians (ACOG), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American College of Radiology (ACR) — each find that diagnostic x-rays are safe during all three trimesters.

Prevention is Key

Good dental health is always important, but preventive dental care is even more important during pregnancy. The ACOG recommends regular dental visits during pregnancy. That’s because dental issues during pregnancy carry with them a risk of infection for you and your baby, after all.

So what should you do?

    • Eat a balanced diet, avoiding processed or sugary foods. Your teeth will benefit, and so will your child.
    • If a preventive exam and cleaning fall during your pregnancy, have it done. Just be sure to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant!
    • Avoid elective procedures until after you’ve delivered. The teeth whitening can wait.
    • When you visit your dentist’s office, bring a pillow for extra comfort and a bit of relaxing music to keep you stress-free.
    • Not pregnant yet, but planning a family? Ask your dentist for extra oral health tips and the best times to schedule routine dental work.
    • Once you’ve welcomed your little one to the world, don’t forget that we also offer pediatric dentistry. Good oral health starts early!

There is, of course, one more thing you can do: speak to your Chicago area dentist at Smile On Dental. We can answer your questions and come up with a plan that best fits your needs while also addressing any concerns you may have. Call us at 773-570-1630 or schedule a dental appointment online today.

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