The demands of pregnancy can lead to particular dental problems in some women. You are less likely to have dental problems during pregnancy if you already have good oral hygiene habits. With proper dental hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist, your teeth should stay healthy during pregnancy.
The Need For Dental X-rays During Pregnancy:
We know about different gum diseases that occur in pregnant women because of hormonal imbalance, they may be pregnancy gingivitis or pregnancy related gum disease. So it's a common problem for pregnant ladies. For that or for other causes of diagnostic purposes, or any for emergency tooth pain or any trauma, sometimes we need dental radiography.
Common causes of dental health problems during pregnancy can include gum problems, vomiting, and cravings for sugary food. The question arises that if the exposure of dental radiography is safe for the unborn baby, is it safe for the pregnant mother herself? Read further to know the answer.
What are the typical fetal doses in dental radiographic procedures?
Spoiler Alert: You may be surprised to know that the dose we use in dental radiography is much less than the normal environmental day-to-day radiation. So the fetal dose is 0.009 µSv to 7.97 µSv. This is usually less than the estimated daily natural background dose received by the fetus. And if we use an apron with lead shielding and a thyroid shield, they can reduce the dose to the fetus even further. However, the use of shielding should be done with proper care to show that the radiograph is of adequate diagnostic quality (keeping the shielding outside of the X-ray beam) and that it does not lead to overexposure (for equipment using some form of automatic exposure control).
Why is it recommended that pregnant women wait to get dental x-rays?
The developing fetus in the first and third trimesters is very sensitive to radiation. The second trimester is slightly less sensitive. In most dental offices, especially those using digital radiography or F speed film, the radiation dose to the patient is very low. However, we still recommend that there should be very little exposure to pregnant women and the developing fetus. In certain cases, such as an emergency case where the mother may have a toothache, sometimes radiographs are necessary and in this case it is important to ensure that you have the lead apron and thyroid collar on.
What is the risk to the fetus if a dental X-ray has been performed on a pregnant woman?
The risk to the fetus from a few µSv of radiation exposure arising from a dental radiographic procedure is extremely small. The cancer risk to the unborn child resulting from a 10 µSv fetal dose is several thousand times less than the background risk of childhood cancer. The risk of inducing a genetic abnormality is an even smaller fraction of the background risk of genetic disorder. Hence, patient doses received in the normal practice of dental radiography would never cause harm to the fetus and patients with concerns in this regard should be counseled accordingly.
How should one deal with possible pregnancy of a woman before performing a dental radiological procedure?
Information on possible pregnancy should be obtained from the patient. A female of reproductive capacity should be considered pregnant unless proven otherwise. If the patient is pregnant the possibility of obtaining information from a non-radiological investigation should be considered. If the radiological examination is considered essential it should be performed and due consideration should be given to optimization. Because of the widespread fears of radiation induced damage to the unborn child, it is reasonable to counsel the woman on the level of radiation exposure and associated risks prior to performing the procedure. It is essential to have pregnancy warning signs in the waiting rooms.
Dental Treatment vs. Dental X-ray, During Pregnancy:
Same as dental radiography, dental treatment, if it can be avoided during pregnancy should be avoided. If there is any dental problem which needs to be treated, then we can do it in the safest time, the second trimester. In the first trimester and the second half of the third trimester, elective dental treatment is to be avoided because that is the time when the growth and development of the child has to be without any disturbance.
All expectant ladies should inform the dentist beforehand that they are pregnant, so that the procedure can be handled properly.