Dental Radiology and Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special period in the life of every woman. The period of pregnancy is filled with special feelings and positive emotions. It is very unfortunate when a positive time of a woman’s life is overshadowed by the toothache. In dentistry, X-ray for pregnant woman is used to clarify the position of the tooth roots in the gum for the purpose of antiseptic treatment and the channels’ filling. Without the adequate treatment of inflammation in the tooth channel, infection enters into the gum, forming the focus of infection, which can propagate both in the jaw bone and on the blood flow in any part of the body. Some pregnant women are so confident in the fact that the effect of X-rays is very negative to the health of their children that they refuse to treat the teeth up until the childbirth. The current paper will discuss the dangers and advantages of dental X-ray during pregnancy.
When women postpone the regular visits to the doctor, the unplanned pregnancy may cause them to take immediate action. During the period of childbearing, women experience the loss of hair, exfoliating nails, and problems with teeth. The constant pain, which is accompanied by inflammation in the oral cavity, forces a woman to immediately see a specialist. If a pregnant woman has serious problems with teeth, a doctor and a woman stand before the choice to do the X-ray or not. It is very difficult for the dentist to work without a picture of the jaw. Even the most experienced experts cannot always put the perfect seal in a curved or thin root canal without seeing the real picture. If the inflammation is healed poorly, then after a while, it will alarm again. The same pathological process can be much more serious. Without X-rays, it is almost impossible to diagnose the root fracture, cyst, or the degree of periodontal inflammation (periodontal tissue). If the treatment is continued without a picture, the disease can worsen to the point where the patient will need to take antibiotics. In addition, the highly advanced cases may require a stay in maxillofacial hospital. Thus, dental treatment in pregnant women requires much more than the case with conventional patient. A dentist must be able to clearly inform and explain the pregnant woman what needs to be done in her case, how the procedure will be carried out and what measures will be taken to protect the yet unborn child. The specialist must be able to reassure the woman if she still was, for some reason, frightened or worried.
X-rays is considered to be harmful. In modern dental clinics, advanced X-ray diagnostics are used. The radiation dose in them is so low that the radiographs can be made even during pregnancy. Dental X-ray is considered to be the safest method of research, in comparison with the extensive radiographic studies of other body parts. Sighting radiography differs by little exposure portion, so the impact it has on the fetus is minimal.
The condition of the teeth and oral cavity often seems an afterthought. Meanwhile, it is reflected on man’s success (in fact, when dealing with people’s bad teeth and bad breath are very important), the health of internal organs (as the infection through the esophagus rapidly goes down) and feelings (many people consider the toothache unbearable). Therefore, one needs to monitor the patient’s teeth. If the specific issues were observed, only worsening should be expected with the onset of pregnancy. A woman during pregnancy is particularly vulnerable. She requires a special individual approach and a proper treatment. Even when a woman has relatively healthy teeth, it is often impossible to avoid their treatment: developing fetus takes a lot of calcium from the mother’s body. In short, there is a strong likelihood that during the period of gestation, a woman has to turn to the dentist and, possibly, stand before a choice: to do an X-ray of the tooth during pregnancy or not.
In recent years, more and more dentists offer the dental X-ray passage to pregnant women when they come to the reception. The radiograph certainly has a number of advantages over the visually impaired dental treatment. Not every dentist has the gift of clairvoyance to be absolutely sure where and how the channels lie. It is better to make an X-ray and get the job done right than to open seals and re-torment a tooth and a patient.
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However, if there is no urgent need in treatment, it is desirable not to do radiographs in the first and last trimesters. After all, even if the radiation dose is minimal, yet the pregnancy is not a time for experimentation and such impacts. X-rays are electromagnetic waves with high energy that have the ability to penetrate the least dense tissue of the body, and stay denser, giving the image of the contours. Passing through the tissues, the X-ray radiation damages them from the inside, tearing and destroying the DNA chain – the main carrier of genetic information (Hemalatha, Manigandan, Sarumathi, Aarthi Nisha, & Amundhan, 2007, p.950). This results in the occurrence of non-viable, or the mutant cells that leads to the development of different abnormalities. In the fetus, cells are actively dividing, which causes a high sensitivity to ionizing radiation. Hemalatha, et.al. (2007) state that depending on the stage of pregnancy and the dose of radiation, harm to the foetal cells can result in birth defects, miscarriages, and mental impairment (p.950). X-rays have the most adverse effects on the tissues and organs of the fetus, at the time when they are just developed. Therefore, it is advisable to resort to X-rays and dental treatment during pregnancy only when the focus of inflammation threatens the development of infection in the mouth. Specialist can make a decision knowing each individual case. If the treatment proves to be necessary, it is best to choose the second trimester for it.
Nevertheless, when a tooth hurts, a woman needs root canal treatment. X-ray diagnostics are needed for the treatment of channels. Cengiz (2007) emphasizes that “when taking a radiograph of a pregnant patient is inevitable, the dose of radiation to be given and the time of gestation are two important factors” (p.137). For the treatment of multi tooth, a woman has to do from 2 to 4 pictures, while the radiation dose is so small that it is absolutely safe for the mother and child. According to Giglio, Lanni, Laskin, & Giglio (2009), oral radiography is certainly safe for pregnant woman, if it provides the protective measures, such as a lead apron, high-speed film, and thyroid collar (p.45).
The ray of electron radiovisiograph is narrowly directed. It passes only through a particular tooth, has not spread to nearby tissues and areas. In addition, the beam passed through the tooth cannot get into the stomach or somehow affect the growing life inside of woman. Moreover, the apparatus emits small doses (exposure lasts for fractions of a second), which are considered equal to the normal background radiation. The radiation dose that is received during staying in the rays of the summer sun is higher than the one that is emitted by radiovisiograph. Modern equipment generally allows doing X-rays of teeth during pregnancy without the use of special protection. Visiograph is the latest generation of X-ray machine, which is equipped with a sensitive sensor, in which high-sensitivity sensor is used instead of a film. This technology significantly reduces the irradiation power. With the help of a weak point-directed X-rays, it allows assessing the condition of the tooth crown and roots.
It can be concluded that from a medical point of view, a pregnant woman can do an X-ray. Radiography raised dentistry to a new level, but most doctors prescribe avoiding tooth X-ray during pregnancy because of the possible adverse effects to the fetus. Nevertheless, X-ray becomes confidently safe for the fetus due to advanced technologies in the dental treatment.