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The Premier Dental Radiology Experience

Are Dental X-rays Safe During Pregnancy?

Dr. Barett Andreasen, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist

Routine dental care during pregnancy is extremely important, as pregnancy often comes with more frequent snacking habits, morning sickness and dietary changes. Pregnant patients are also more susceptible to gingivitis. As such, women who are pregnant may end up needing to see the dentist more frequently for dental care and guidance and may need radiographic examination at some point during their pregnancy.

According to the ADA and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, radiographs are considered safe for the pregnant patient at any stage during the pregnancy. Although a developing fetus is sensitive to ionizing radiation, the amount of exposure received during dental radiography is extremely low. Doses from dentomaxillofacial radiography are approximately 42,000 times lower than the dose needed for deterministic effects and the risk of cancer to the embryo is so low that we may never be able to measure the risk.

Even though radiographs are safe, there is still understandably some apprehension regarding the possible effects of radiation exposure, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. Here are some steps your clinic can take to alleviate concerns:

  1. Use a lead apron and other radiation protection practices, such as collimation and fast or digital receptors.
  2. Routine radiographic evaluation of asymptomatic patients may be deferred until after pregnancy.
  3. When radiographs are indicated, emphasize that the benefits are crucial in maintaining oral health and proper oral health care is an important part of a healthy pregnancy.

If you need some oral health resources for your prenatal patients, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some print outs and brochures for dental offices.

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