Are Orthodontic Exams Ok For When You Are Pregnant?

If you are pregnant and planning a visit to an orthodontist, you may be concerned about how orthodontic tests will potentially affect your unborn child. The good news is routine tooth x-rays do not pose any harm to a developing fetus and they can usually be postponed until after the child is born. Here’s what you should know about orthodontic tests during pregnancy.

Orthodontic Tests and Pregnancy

Routine tooth x-rays such as those done during an annual check-up or to perform some dental procedures are considered very safe. The American College of Radiology has found that there is no diagnostic x-ray that produces a high enough radiation dose to cause effects in a developing fetus. With proper shielding, having x-rays done on your teeth while you are pregnant is considered safe by the American Dental Association.

Still, you may wish to stay on the safe side and avoid x-rays that aren’t necessary. Because the first trimester is the most vulnerable stage of fetal development, you may make the decision to avoid dental work during this time. Your orthodontist can postpone your routine x-rays until after you give birth. Some x-rays will be necessary if you require emergency dental procedures that shouldn’t be delayed such as a root canal. Keep in mind there has been no evidence that suggests any harm to a child from dental work during pregnancy.

The Importance of Dental Care During Pregnancy

While you may have concerns about x-rays while pregnant, it’s still important to see your orthodontist regularly for check-ups and care. Studies have linked dental disease and gum disease to pre-term labor and delivery. Some research also raises the possibility of a link between dental disease and low birth weight as well.

Regular dental care is important to protect your health as well as your child. After all, this is a crucial in your life and good oral health is directly linked to good overall health. Preventative care while you are pregnant can avoid oral infections, tooth decay, and serious dental emergencies.


Remember: pregnancy can cause some new oral health problems or worsen conditions that already exist. Two conditions are most common during pregnancy: gingivitis and tooth decay.

Tooth Decay

Pregnant women appear to be at a higher risk of cavities, possibly for several reasons. You may find yourself eating more carbs during pregnancy which may cause tooth decay. Morning sickness can raise the amount of acid to which your mouth is exposed which can damage the enamel of your teeth. Some women brush and floss less often during pregnancy due to tender gums, a sensitive gag reflex, and morning sickness.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your mouth. Pregnancy gingivitis refers to swelling or inflammation of the gums that affects many pregnant women, especially during the first trimester. This form of gingivitis makes the gums irritated and sensitive. If it isn’t treated, it can progress just like normal gingivitis into more serious gum disease.

Preventative vs Regular Dental Care

Along with preventative treatment like cleanings, which are always safe and recommended during pregnancy, you may need dental work like cavity fillings and crowns. When you need dental work while you are pregnant, it’s usually recommended during the second trimester. This is because the first trimester is the most vulnerable stage while the third trimester can make it hard to lie on your back for a long period of time. There is also concern about potentially triggering labor during the third trimester.

In general, your orthodontist will try to postpone dental work until after you give birth for safety, but sometimes dental work is necessary. A tooth extraction or root canal should not be pushed off until birth as these conditions can lead to infection that may even reach your unborn child. Elective treatments like tooth whitening should always be postponed.

Tips for Good Oral Health During Pregnancy

The following tips can help you protect your oral health and your child for a happy, healthy pregnancy.

  • Eat a balanced diet for proper nutrition for yourself and your child. Minimize sugar which can contribute to dental cavities.
  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Schedule your regular cleanings and check-ups during your pregnancy.
  • When possible, postpone non-essential dental treatment until your second trimester or after birth.
  • Avoid elective dental procedures like whitening while pregnant.
  • Always let your orthodontist know if you are pregnant or suspect you are pregnant.

All orthodontists understand that it’s essential to avoid unnecessary risks, even with a procedure considered safe. Let your orthodontist know you are pregnant during your visit so your concerns can be addressed. Current ADA guidelines instruct orthodontists and dentists to avoid x-rays for patients whenever possible. When needed, lead neck collars and aprons are used to minimize any possible radiation exposure.

Contact Us Today

At Tisseront Orthodontics in Reston, Va., we offer an assortment of orthodontic treatments for children, teenagers and adults. Our patients can enjoy a free consultation concerning these orthodontic devices:

We also offer electronic devices that are designed for stimulating the nerves and alveolar bones in your jaw to reduce your orthodontic treatment time. Contact us today at 703-773-1200 to schedule your first orthodontic appointment with Tisseront Orthodontics.