When you are pregnant, everything becomes a potential risk for your unborn baby. From eating foods high in mercury to flying, so many daily activities become taboo. With so many precautions that pregnant women are advised to follow, it is hard to separate myth from real danger.
When it comes to dental X-rays, though, we want to dispel the myth that they are dangerous for you and your baby. Ask your dentist. Dental X-rays are safe for pregnant women. Additionally, they are important diagnostic tools that help to prevent and treat gum disease. When left untreated, gum inflammation and gum disease in pregnant women have been linked to birth complications and premature birth!
Dental X-rays: Low Radiation Exposure
Many pregnant mothers are worried about the level of radiation exposure that comes from a dental X-ray. Unfortunately, there is a cause for concern here. Studies have shown that when a fetus is exposed to more than 10 “rads” (the unit of measurement for radiation absorption), there is an increased risk of the child developing mental retardation and/or eye abnormalities.
The good news, though, is that it is extremely rare for a single X-ray or even a group of X-rays to exceed 5 rads. In fact, the amount of rads that your unborn baby is exposed to during one X-ray is .01 millirad! That’s less than the amount of natural radiation that you absorb from the earth and sun over the course of your entire pregnancy.
Dental X-Rays Can Help Prevent Premature Labor
When you are pregnant, your body goes through drastic changes. Hormones are coursing through your body at unprecedented levels. The rise in hormones means that your gums are going to swell. When your gums swell they trap food and cause irritation, which increases your chance of gum disease. Approximately, 40 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. have some form of periodontal disease.
If you don’t think gum disease is an issue for you while you are pregnant, think again. Multiple studies have shown an association between poor dental conditions and pregnancy complications such as preterm delivery and low birth weight babies.
So, before you put off that dental X-ray that can reveal gum infection and other oral diseases, ask you dentist if your condition requires an X-ray.
Safety Measures for Women Undergoing Dental X-rays
As always, safety is the name of the game for pregnant women in need of an X-ray. Always inform your dentist that you are pregnant before taking any X-rays. Additionally, always wear a leaded apron and collar to protect you and the baby from radiation. Fortunately, at Belmont Dental Care we offer digital X-rays. Digital X-rays emit 90 percent less radiation than traditional machines.
While dental X-rays are considered safe for pregnant women, we always suggest that only emergency procedures be performed during pregnancy. Elective treatments such as cosmetic dentistry (i.e. teeth whitening) should be delayed until after your pregnancy. Additionally, during the first trimester and 2nd half of the third trimester, babies undergo important development stages. Therefore, we generally prefer to avoid X-rays during these times. Avoiding all risks no matter how small is important!
For more information on undergoing dental X-rays during pregnancy, visit us at Belmont Dental Care or call us today at (480) 609-0050!