Guest blog by Dr. Amanda Tavoularis, a dentist for over 20 years.
Being pregnant is a wonderful time in a woman’s life, but it comes with it’s own host of uncertainties. There are probably hundreds of questions buzzing around in your head of what you should and shouldn’t do. As a dentist with 20 years of experience, one of the most common questions I get asked is whether X-rays are safe for those trying to become or already pregnant. It’s a fair concern, and one I hope to address today. It’s important to be informed about all aspects of your health, as letting your dental health lax can cause complications in the future. Dental health is often overlooked, but is just as important to your overall health as any other part of your body.
Are X-Rays Safe Before and During Pregnancy?
X-rays can seem scary as they directly expose your body to radiation. This can seem very dubious at best, and many women fear it could harm their child or prevent them from conceiving in the future. The fact is, that a normal X-ray is perfectly safe both before and during your pregnancy.
A typical dental X-ray has a very low dose of radiation and is safe during your pregnancy. You should be taking the proper precautions such as wearing a lead apron and limiting your exposure, but that is no different than normal. When done correctly, the very low dose of radiation present in a typical dental X-ray has very low risk of causing any sort of damage before or during pregnancy.
That said, it is usually an option to put off X-rays until after your pregnancy. For routine X-rays, you can ask your dentist to postpone them and most will be happy to do so. In some cases this isn’t possible though, for example when you need more involved dental work done. In these cases the risk of leaving an issue is a far greater threat than the X-ray itself. Bring any concerns you have to your dentist and they’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.
What About Other Dental Procedures?
In most cases, dental procedures are perfectly safe during your pregnancy. In fact, depending on the severity of the issue, you will be encouraged to have it done during your pregnancy to prevent further complications. Gum disease, as one example, can lead to premature birth so dealing with it soon is of the utmost importance. Your dentist will be able to make this determination, and advise you on the best and safest course of action.
As always, talk to your dentist before having any procedures done. Let them know you’re pregnant or planning to be, so they can take any necessary precautions to prevent harm. They can also offer advice on when to have procedures done. In many cases you might be advised to wait until the second trimester, but for more serious issues you might be urged to have work done sooner.
That also includes things like medicine and anesthetics. While some of these may be harmful to you, many are not. Don’t just write them off, as many have been tested and are safe for pregnant women. When in doubt, bring it up with your dentist. As always, they have your best interests in mind, and will work to ensure whatever prescription or procedure they prescribe is safe.
Keeping Your Mouth Healthy During Pregnancy
Whether you’re pregnant or planning to be it’s important to keep your mouth healthy. As mentioned, your oral health plays a big role in your overall health, and can lead to complications if ignored. This is even more important while pregnant as changes in hormones can make you more susceptible to certain infections.
The most important step to oral health is simply to follow a proper home care routine. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing once, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash daily. These three combined provide the best protection against bacteria in your mouth and help prevent the majority of oral issues.
It’s also important to watch what you eat, in particular limiting sugars. High sugar foods such as candy and pops can wreak havoc on your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars, and use it to grow. The less you eat, the better off your mouth will be. This can be difficult with pregnancy cravings, but the more you can limit the better.
There’s bad information out there around dental procedures, X-Rays and pregnancy, and it’s important to understand what is fact and what is fiction. Keeping good oral hygiene is important for your overall health, especially while pregnant or planning to be. Keep your mouth healthy and you’ll be less stressed and be one step closer to a healthy pregnancy.
Dr. Amanda Tavoularis has been committed to excellent dentistry for over 20 years. She studied at the University of Washington School of Dentistry and has gone on to complete over 200 hours of study at the prestigious Kois Center located in Seattle. She belongs to numerous dentistry networks include the American Dental Association and the Wellness Dentistry Network. With being a female dentist on the Dentably team, Dr. Amanda can provide her expertise for dental care for women as well as expecting mothers. She has a son of her own and is committed to providing the most accurate information possible for patients.