Working in the Dental Industry While Pregnant
It’s no secret most women continue working during their pregnancy. Some jobs may be safer than others, though, when it comes to stress and strain. Moreover, some jobs may require employees to work with harmful substances. Take a freelance dental hygienist, for example. These professionals frequently work with chemicals and often conduct X-rays.
It’s important to know what pregnant women should stay away from and what is okay. While working in a dental office during your pregnancy, keep the following topics in mind.
Keep Your Employer Aware of Your Situation
Always be transparent with your employer. No matter your position in the dental practice, tell your employer if you're pregnant and plan to work. Even if you are a freelancer, it is still important to make your employer aware. There’s no reason to keep your pregnancy a secret as it’s illegal for an employer to treat you differently. However, you must follow the regulations set forth by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
During your pregnancy, speak with your employer about your situation and your wishes. Discuss how long into your pregnancy you plan to work, and when you plan on coming back to work. This insight allows your employer to efficiently plan around your maternity leave. Plus, the PDA says you must return on the date you declared to take back your previous position.
Be Flexible with Your Hours and Routine
For anyone who has already undergone pregnancy, you’ll know how morning sickness affects you. To avoid having sickness or symptoms at work, try to change your work schedule. With your employer already aware of your state, it may prove easy to alter your work hours. Ask for the afternoon to evening shifts. Alternatively, maybe you want to ask for a different workday schedule. For example, you may want to keep your morning shifts, but take an early lunch break in the morning.
Try out different schedules and see what suits you best. Your employer will likely be very considerate and flexible with you as well.
Practice Caution in Daily Functions
Throughout the workday, you may be required to perform certain duties that can be dangerous for your baby. For example, sterilization chemicals can have ingredients that affect a baby’s development. Before using some products, ensure you know what the contents are, as some may be more harmful than others.
Similarly, using nitrous oxide, a frequently used gas in the dental world, can harm a fetus. The American Dental Association recommends that staff and patients who are pregnant avoid exposure to the substance. If a patient needs nitrous oxide, you should leave the room. Your dental practice should already have ventilation in place, but it’s important to ensure no gas is in an area before you enter.
The other common tool used in dental offices that can harm fetuses is an x-ray machine. Although the radiation from x-rays can be harmful, dental x-rays typically do not affect anywhere other than the teeth. However, it’s still important to practice caution when taking an x-ray. The ADA recommends all pregnant employees use a dosimetry badge to monitor radiation levels.
With all this said, if you are looking for an even more flexible work schedule while pregnant, consider Stynt. We make it easy to freelance in the dental industry by matching you with dental offices in seconds. Fill out our form or download our app to join us!