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Pregnancy is an exciting time and, while your body is undergoing massive amounts of change, it does not mean that you should abandon your dental care routine. In fact, it is important that you take extra-great care of your teeth in order to avoid things like pregnancy gingivitis, and if you stick to your regular dental visit schedule during pregnancy, chances are you will need to have dental X-rays at some point. One question we often hear in the office is: are dental X-rays safe during pregnancy?

The short answer is…. Yes! Dental X-rays are safe to have during pregnancy, but there are some other factors you may want to consider as you are planning your dental care during this time.

The amount of radiation used in a dental X-ray is very low and, according to both the American Dental Association and the American Pregnancy Association, is not enough to cause any harm to a pregnant woman or her baby.

Beyond that, there’s an extra layer of protection — literally — used to make the process even safer for everyone who needs to have a dental X-ray.

If you’ve had dental X-rays in the past, you probably remember the dentist or hygienist placing a heavy apron over you before turning on the X-ray machine. This is a leaded apron that is designed to minimize exposure to radiation during the X-ray process.

The apron is long enough to cover the abdomen, which means a baby is protected during the X-ray process. It might seem like a nuisance or more trouble than it’s worth to wear it for such a short amount of time, but this is definitely one of those situations where it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The apron will feel heavy when your dentist or hygienist puts it on, but it is safe to use at all stages of pregnancy. If all goes well, it will only be on you for a few minutes at most.

Making the Best Choices

Even though the dental X-ray process is safe to undertake throughout pregnancy, some women make proactive choices to limit their exposure to X-rays and other procedures during this time.

You should notify your dentist as soon as possible after you become pregnant. You can work with your dentist to develop a treatment plan that will work for you and your baby.

Some women choose to postpone X-rays until after the end of the first trimester because this is the time that is most crucial for the baby’s development. This is not medically necessary but may help provide peace of mind.

Routine dental X-rays can also be postponed until after the baby is born, but this is not something that is recommended. X-rays are critical to detecting dental issues that could become serious if they are not detected and treated.

The last thing you want is to have a newborn baby and a dental emergency on your hands because of something that could have been addressed during pregnancy.

Speaking of emergencies, if you have a dental emergency while you are pregnant, you will need to have X-rays. This is not usually something that can be postponed until after birth.