The American College of Radiology states that no single diagnostic X-ray has a radiation dose that is high enough to cause damage to an unborn baby. However, what happens when a pregnant woman working as a dentist, dental hygienist or dental assistant, is exposed to multiple X-rays during the gestational period of her pregnancy? According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, employees should not be exposed to more than 1,250 mrem of ionizing radiation dose per quarter, or 5,000 mrem per year. But a pregnant woman should only receive a fraction of that dose — 500 mrem — during her entire pregnancy.

 Here are a few suggestions for keeping pregnant women in your dental office safe:

  1. Limit the number of X-rays pregnant employees administer. Yes, staff should be six feet away from the exposure area when taking an image, but it is possible for an employee to be accidentally exposed to radiation. It is best to take every precaution so there can be no question about an employee’s exposure.
  2. Make sure a pregnant employee is wearing her dosimetry badge at all times.The Instadose+ dosimeter records the exact amount of ionizing radiation a staff member is exposed to and that information can be accessed immediately via a laptop or mobile device.
  3. Pregnant employees should wear lead aprons whenever administering X-rays.Lead aprons provide a barrier of protection for the unborn child, should there be any accidental exposure — and it will also help employees feel safer.

 If a pregnant employee should experience the tragedy of a miscarriage or other problem with her pregnancy, she will want the peace of mind knowing that nothing she did could possibly have caused the problem. These precautionary steps, when followed, offer assurances that proper precautions were taken to prevent unsafe radiation exposure.


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