Answer to Question #12647 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Pregnancy and Radiation — Exposures not directly to embryo/fetus

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


About four or five days after conception, I had a root canal and did not yet know that I was pregnant. The dentist took 10 digital x rays on my tooth and used a lead shield to cover my abdominal area. I have read a great deal of information stating that a dental x ray is not enough radiation to cause harm to a baby, but I am very concerned because I had a great deal more taken than the average person. Should I be concerned about the amount of radiation exposure the baby received on this day? Does the radiation from a dental x ray stay localized near the mouth or can it spread to the uterus?


There was no harm done to the baby from having the dental x rays.

No matter how many dental x rays you have, the baby is not going to receive any radiation dose. The radiation is carefully collimated to include only the area of interest (teeth/jaw/mouth) with little or no radiation exposure outside that area.

The x rays only exist while the x-ray machine is operating. When the machine is off, there are no x rays and no radiation remains anywhere.

You should not be concerned. What you have read is correct—a dental x ray or a number of dental x rays will not harm the baby.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist

Answer posted on 28 September 2018. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.