Are Dental X-rays While Breastfeeding Safe?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

Common sense dictates that dental x-rays should be avoided while you’re pregnant if they’re not absolutely necessary. However, what is the consensus for getting those same x-rays after giving birth such as while breastfeeding?

dental x-ray machine

Is it harmful or is it safe to receive dental x-rays while breastfeeding? What should mothers with newborns do in regards to their oral health while they’re nursing. Should they put off all dental care until after they stop breastfeeding or can they get care immediately post-partum?

Our purpose here today is to address all of the those questions. That way if you are a new mother, you can confidently make a decision about what to do with your teeth, your gums, and your overall oral health.

Is it harmful to get dental x-rays while breastfeeding?

It is certainly safe for mothers with newborn babies to receive dental x-rays while they’re breastfeeding. We have a NIH study and also guidelines by the ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) supporting that claim.

During pregnancy, the concern is over exposing the fetus to radiation but after giving birth, it shifts towards whether dental x-rays can affect lactation.

  • Will it affect the production of milk?
  • Will the residual radiation from x-rays linger in the breastmilk?

Those are all valid concerns because you don’t want to inadvertently expose your newborn to unneeded radiation. Fortunately for all new mothers, they can breathe a sigh of relief because there is no evidence of harm in receiving dental radiation while nursing.

Safety according to a scientific study

According to a NIH study, it is safe to receive not only dental x-rays but also other types of radiation (chest x-rays, etc) while the mother is breastfeeding.

  • It’s safe because the radiation from the x-rays are only present during the time that they are being taken.
  • Diagnostic x-rays have no known effect on the milk in the breast during imaging.
  • Radiation has no detrimental effect on breastmilk production.

What that means for you is there will be no residual radiation or radioactivity that lingers on in your body and breastmilk. You also won’t be nursing your newborn with radioactive milk.

Actionable points:

  • There is no “waiting time” before it is safe to nurse your child after receiving x-rays.
  • You can breastfeed them as soon as you get up from the dental chair.
  • By the time you get back home, it will be beyond safe to do so.

In summary, the entire study states that you as a nursing mother do not need to take any special precautions in regards to getting radiographic imaging. Just follow the normal radiation safety protocol as if you weren’t nursing.

There is nothing special that you need to do just because you’re breastfeeding.

Guidelines by the ACOG

The ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) published a guideline for diagnostic imaging during pregnancy and lactation.

For the sake of transparency, the guidelines don’t specifically mention dental diagnostic x-rays but they do include all of the medical ones such as MRI, sonograms, CT scans, and etc. These all produce significantly more radiation than what you will receive at the dentist office.

The overall tone of the article states that diagnostic radiation should not be withheld from pregnant women if they need it. Breastfeeding should also not be interrupted since there is no risk to lactation from external sources of ionizing radiation. In other words, x-rays have no effect on breastfeeding.

“However, confusion about the safety of these modalities for pregnant and lactating women and their infants often results in unnecessary avoidance of useful diagnostic tests or the unnecessary interruption of breastfeeding.”

Perhaps verbally telling you that dental x-rays are safe while breastfeeding may not give you a clear image so we’re going to give you actual numbers.

Putting the amount of radiation into perspective

A normal fetus will naturally receive approximately 1 mGy of background radiation during pregnancy. That is what they receive without any additional diagnostic imaging that the mother receives. It is basically what they’re exposed to from just being on this planet.

According to this study, which was referenced in the guideline there have been no reported fetal risk of anomalies, growth restrictions, or abortion from radiation dosages below 50 mGy.

To put that into perspective, here are some sample radiation doses for reference.

Type of X-rayRadiation dose (mGy)
Dental CBCT0.2
Dental panoramic x-ray0.013
Dental intraoral x-rays0.005
Abdominal radiography0.1-3.0
Radiation doses reference chart

Reasons dental x-rays are safe:

  • The total dosage of dental radiographs doesn’t even amount to a whole number in terms of radiation. In fact, they’re less than what a fetus would normally get exposed to from just being inside the womb.
  • The dosages are also significantly below the safety level of 50 mGy. The panoramic and intraoral x-rays only give off 0.013 and 0.005 mGy respectively.
x-ray implant impression coping
intraoral dental x-ray

Yes, we are talking about breastfeeding but the point we wanted to make is that the fetus is the most vulnerable stage and if it is safe for that stage, it is certainly safe after they’re born. Just to reiterate, radiation in general has had no effect on lactation at all.

The Verdict – are x rays safe and should you get them while breastfeeding?

To summarize, based on the NIH study and the ACOG guideline it is safe to get dental x-rays while you’re breastfeeding. To this date, there have been no known detrimental side effects on lactation from ionizing radiation. It also does not affect breast milk production nor does any side effects linger within the milk after imaging.

What that means is that nursing mothers are cleared to receive dental care and treatment. In fact, they are encouraged to resume dental care since some mothers choose to put off dental treatment such as cavity fillings for small tooth decay while they were pregnant.

Therefore, don’t let the words dental radiation scare you from receiving the care that you need and deserve. Studies have already proven that the radiation doses from the dentist are negligible relative to everything else in life.

There have been no reported side effects to a human fetus from radiation as much as 50 mGy. Dental x-rays only give about 0.013 and 0.005 mGy depending on the type of x-ray. In order to exceed that limit you would need to take about 10,000 dental x-rays.

Fun fact about radiation

We bet you’ve never even taken 100 of them in a single dentist visit! Also as a fun fact, according to livescience you get about 2-5 mGy of radiation from taking a typical NYC to LA flight. That is multiples of what dental imaging will ever give you but yet no one is concerned about jet-setting around the world. We’re just pointing out facts here.

So, yes you can get your routine check up x-rays since it won’t harm your newborn while you breastfeed. Your dentist is not trying to push x-rays on you so why are you still hesitating? You can go ahead and make that appointment already!

We hope you learned something from this article. Please support us, afterva in our endeavours to provide you with the best oral health information.


1311 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101

Email Us


Dental Services

If you're in NYC and in need of a dentist, our clinical dental practice, 1311 Jackson Ave Dental is accepting new patients.

Our purpose at afterva, is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not meant to be a substitute for medical advice.

A lot of nuances cannot be detected without an in-person clinical exam, which means it is near impossible to diagnose and treat virtually.

sitemap | privacy policy