Answer to Question #8789 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Pregnancy and Radiation — Radiation effects to embryo/fetus

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


I am a dentist working in a dental clinic in India. I take nearly 5 to 10 dental x rays every day and hold the film in the patient's mouth while I'm taking the x ray. I am hoping to conceive in the near future. How safe for my child is my professional exposure to x rays? Can I continue with the job after conceiving?

The usual procedure for taking dental x rays is to have the operator stand behind a barrier wall or at least stand six to eight feet from the patient when actuating the x-ray machine. A bitewing x-ray film is used. The technician or dentist places the dental x-ray film in front of the tooth or teeth to be x rayed. The patient clamps down on the bitewing and the operator steps out of the room or steps back six to eight feet and clicks the shutter of the x-ray machine. In this manner, the operator is exposed to a minimum amount of scatter radiation and the embryo, for practical purposes, will not be exposed at all. When you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you could wear a lead apron, but it really would not be necessary. In modern dental practice, I do not believe that anyone should be routinely holding the film in a patient's mouth several times a day.

Robert Brent MD, PhD

Answer posted on 12 January 2010. 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.