If you are pregnant and need dental treatment, it may be necessary for a dentist to take X-rays of your mouth. Although pregnant women should generally avoid overexposure to radiation, in some cases it may be important to the health of the unborn child for the mother to undergo dental treatment. The American Dental Association has said that untreated dental conditions can be hazardous to the health of a fetus, which means mothers should continue to maintain their oral hygiene and treatments during pregnancy.
Fortunately, the radiation from dental X-rays is very low. For comparison, the average radiation levels in the U.S. from natural sources per year is 3.0 millisieverts, while a full-mouth X-ray series at the dentist is 0.150 mSV and bitewing X-rays are only 0.038 mSV. Even so, your dental plan dentist will take extra precautions to protect you and your baby from the radiation. Patients wear lead aprons over their abdomens and often a leaded thyroid collar, as well. According to the ADA, “The use of a leaded thyroid collar is strongly recommended for women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children.” Talk to your dentist about any concerns you may have about X-rays and ask him or her to explain why they want to take X-rays at that particular time. It could be critical to your health.