Pregnancy is a beautiful time, and naturally, you’ll do everything to ensure a healthy 9 months. This includes getting proper prenatal care, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and even giving up a few habits. But while all of this is essential to your overall health during pregnancy, it’s also important that you don’t neglect your dental health.
One unexpected problem of pregnancy is tooth pain or sensitivity, but with good dental habits and a visit to your dentist, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy.
How Pregnancy Will Affect Your Mouth?
Although many women make it nine months with no dental discomfort, pregnancy can make some conditions worse – or create new ones. Regular checkups and good dental health habits can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Your mouth can be affected by the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy. For example, some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or floss. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings to prevent this.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
Pregnant women may be more prone to cavities for a number of reasons. If you’re eating more carbohydrates than usual, this can cause decay. Morning sickness can increase the amount of acid your mouth is exposed to, which can eat away at the outer covering of your tooth (enamel).
Brushing twice a day and flossing once can also fall by the wayside during pregnancy for many reasons, including morning sickness, a more sensitive gag reflex, tender gums, and exhaustion. It’s especially important to keep up your routine, as poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
What are the causes of teeth pain during pregnancy?
Most pregnant women anticipate some discomfort throughout their pregnancy.
Everyone has heard stories about awful morning sickness, and it’s no secret that pregnancy brings swollen feet, back pain, fatigue, and brain fog. (Thank goodness the baby at the end of this journey is so worth it.)
But when it comes to teeth pain or sensitivity, this pregnancy problem can catch you off guard. Yet, dental issues during pregnancy are more common than some people realize.
The body goes through many changes during pregnancy — you can thank hormonal shifts for this. The same way an increase in estrogen and progesterone may be responsible for symptoms like vomiting and nausea, these changes can also make you vulnerable to dental plaque.
This buildup of plaque can be the root cause of bleeding gums and inflammation, a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. It affects up to 75 percent Trusted Source of pregnant women, so if you have it, you’re not alone.
And depending on the severity of pregnancy gingivitis, you may develop periodontal disease. This is a serious gum infection that destroys the bones supporting your teeth, leading to tooth loss.
Some women also develop pregnancy tumors, also caused by too much plaque. Don’t worry — these sound scary, but they’re noncancerous growths on the gums.
Of course, cancerous or not, this overgrowth of tissues (which often occurs during the second trimester) can cause tenderness and pain, making it difficult to eat or drink. The good news is that these tumors usually disappear after giving birth.
As if these possibilities weren’t enough, pregnancy can also change your appetite, and it’s totally normal to crave certain foods. The problem is, you’re not likely to crave healthy foods.
If you’re constantly reaching for sugary or high-carbohydrate snacks to satisfy cravings, there’s the risk of tooth decay, resulting in cavities.
And if you have the unfortunate pleasure of living with acid reflux or morning sickness, frequent vomiting or stomach acid in your mouth can slowly damage your tooth enamel, triggering tooth sensitivity.
What are the treatments for teeth pain during pregnancy?
Whether you have a toothache, tender gums, or sores, mouth pain doesn’t have to be a killjoy.
First and foremost: See your dentist
If you have tooth pain that doesn’t go away, don’t suffer silently. See your dentist right away, and don’t forget to mention that you’re pregnant.
It’s safe to have dental X-rays and certain dental procedures during pregnancy. But depending on how far along you are, your dentist may recommend delaying some treatments until at least the second trimester.
But since your baby’s vital organs are developed by the second trimester, there’s a lower risk of side effects when dentists delay certain procedures.
Keep up with your cleanings
To be clear, though, routine dental cleanings don’t harm your baby, so you can continue to schedule these cleanings as normal. In fact, getting your teeth cleaned may get rid of the sensitivity caused by too much plaque.
A cleaning can treat pregnancy gingivitis, too. Because of the risk of gingivitis during pregnancy, your dentist may even recommend more frequent cleanings while pregnant — perhaps every 3 months as opposed to every 6 months.
Plaque removal can also ease discomfort from pregnancy tumors, the noncancerous overgrowths on your gums. Just know that the tumor might not go away until after delivery, and that’s OK.
Get more specific treatments as necessary
Sometimes, though, a tumor interferes with eating. If so, your dentist may consider removal, but you’ll need to wait until the second or third trimester. This procedure involves local anesthesia to numb the area around your gums.
If you develop periodontal disease during pregnancy and your dentist can’t save a loose tooth, extraction during the second trimester can stop pain and sensitivity.
You can then discuss tooth replacement options with your dentist such as a dental implant or fixed dental bridge — both are safe after the second trimester.
Home remedies for teeth pain during pregnancy?
If your dentist postpones a dental treatment until the second trimester, there’s plenty you can do in the meantime to relieve pain at home. You can start by identifying foods and drinks that exacerbate sensitivity or pain.
Some women find that sensitivity increases when they eat hot foods or drink hot beverages, whereas others have a sensitivity to cold drinks or cold foods. Mouthwashes containing alcohol could also worsen your pain.
Rinsing your mouth with warm, salty water might offer some relief from swelling and inflammation. Or, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek to relieve inflammation.
Ask your doctor or dentist whether it’s safe to take an over-the-counter tooth antiseptic containing benzocaine or pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Recommended Dental Care During Pregnancy
Everyone (pregnant or not) should undergo dental cleaning and assessment at least once every six months. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory infection, and oral osteoporosis.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, but also know that most preventive treatments during pregnancy are safe. Delaying treatment may lead to more advanced issues and could increase the risk of preterm delivery.
At home, keep up with your routine dental care during pregnancy.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks
- Brush twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride
- Floss daily
If you have irritated gums, try rinsing with salt water (1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water). If that doesn’t help, see your dentist.
Taking care of your teeth is important at any stage of life, but during pregnancy, oral and dental changes occur that shouldn’t be ignored. By maintaining regular dental visits, you’ll be ready to greet your baby with a beautiful, healthy smile
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment