Being pregnant is both an incredibly special and challenging experience. Your body goes through a ton of changes.
You may not expect it, but your teeth and gums can change during pregnancy. Though it may be tough, it’s important to keep your teeth and gums healthy to prevent infection that can spread to your baby.
Learn more about the changes your mouth goes through during pregnancy, and how you might be able to ease the pain.
For some expecting mothers, teeth become extra sensitive. It might be all of your teeth, or just one side or one area of your mouth.
Drinking hot or cold beverages could make your teeth tingle or throb more than they did before you were pregnant. And the sensitivity might fluctuate — there one day, gone the next.
Hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, increase in volume when you’re pregnant, which makes your blood flow increase in volume. This sends more blood through the gums, which can lead to sensitivity of the teeth.
If you grind your teeth, this can also cause sensitivity or pain. Teeth grinding is often caused by stress, and pregnancy can inflict a lot of emotional and physical stress.
Tooth sensitivity typically goes away post-pregnancy, but see a dentist if the problem lingers.
For many pregnant women, tooth sensitivity quickly elevates to pain. This pain is sometimes felt in other areas of the mouth, too.
Again, the increased blood flow places more pressure on the teeth, which can make them more prone to pain. The pain can sometimes get so bad that you can’t even bring yourself to chew on something soft like rice or bread.
If you typically take medication for your sinuses due to allergies or another condition, you might be advised to stop taking it during pregnancy. In this case, that added pressure in the sinuses can also put stress on areas around the face and jaw, sometimes causing tooth pain.
It’s likely been a while since you’ve had a loose tooth. But pregnant women often find teeth become wiggly, along with being painful or sensitive.
Don’t freak out just yet; you’re probably not going to actually lose a tooth.
The reason this happens is directly connected to pregnancy: Your hormones promote muscle relaxation, and this could extend to your gums. When your gums are relaxed, the teeth may become slightly loose.
If you need peace of mind, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Experiencing toothaches? It could be because you’re more prone to developing cavities when you’re pregnant.
There are a few reasons this is so:
- Morning sickness: The acid in vomit erodes tooth enamel, which protects your teeth from cavities. Worn enamel means more cavities.
- Hormones: When your body goes through hormonal changes, that also affects the way you fight bacteria and infection. It also makes it easier for plaque buildup to occur.
- Diet: Your tastes change during pregnancy, and this could lead to a larger intake of foods that are harmful to the teeth, such as sugar.
Swollen, Red or Bleeding Gums
The increase of hormones and blood flow during pregnancy pushes blood through the gums, which can cause them to swell and become sensitive. Your gums may take on a red appearance and be painful. In some cases, your gums might even bleed during brushing.
Many pregnant women develop gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. This is another effect of the increased blood flow caused by pregnancy hormones.
In some women, “pregnancy tumors” grow on the gums. They’re not a form of cancer; they’re actually just areas of swelling that often occur in between your teeth. It’s easy to make these “tumors” bleed, and they can also be painful. These sores usually happen during the second trimester.
It can be painful to brush your teeth or even eat, but it’s important to stick to at least a twice-daily brushing habit so that plaque doesn’t add to the problem.
Your gums should return to normal after you have your baby, but see your dentist if the issue lingers.
How to Prevent Mouth, Gum and Tooth Pain During Pregnancy
While some of these unfortunate effects of pregnancy are unavoidable, there are some things you can do to help minimize the problem and focus more on enjoying this special time in your life:
Sensitive toothpaste: Purchase toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth. This can help reduce sensitivity and pain in both your teeth and gums.
Soft toothbrush: Hard bristles on a toothbrush can cause even more irritation. Replace your toothbrush with one that has soft bristles.
Night guard: Wearing a night guard can prevent you from grinding your teeth at night.
Calcium: When babies don’t get enough calcium from their mother’s diet, they absorb it directly from their mother’s bones. Calcium ensures strong teeth and gums, so increasing your calcium intake with supplements or calcium-rich foods can help address some of these pregnancy-related oral problems.
Salt water rinse: Salt water rinses allow any mouth wounds to heal more quickly, fight bacteria, and remove food particles that might become lodged and cause cavities. It is natural and safe for pregnant women.
Other mouth rinses: Antimicrobial or fluoridated mouthwash is recommended, as they are gentle but effective. A rinse made of a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water can help after morning sickness and prevent acid from damaging teeth.
Brush your teeth: Stick to a twice-daily (or more) brushing habit, and always brush after you have a bout of morning sickness so the acid doesn’t linger and wear on the enamel.
Healthy diet: Vitamin C fights bacteria, vitamin A fights gum disease, and a healthy, well-rounded diet provides nutrients for you and baby.
Avoid triggers: If you know hot or cold drinks will cause you discomfort, avoid them. Identify any other root causes and eliminate those as much as possible.
Can I Go to the Dentist When I’m Pregnant?
Over the years, the subject of whether or not it’s safe to go the dentist while you’re pregnant has been one of much debate.
The consensus? Yes, it’s perfectly safe to go to the dentist when you’re pregnant. In fact, some OB/GYNs encourage it.
Annual/bi-annual cleanings are perfectly safe for pregnant women, and they’re essential to prevention of more serious oral conditions — which could affect your baby, too.
It’s important to make sure you let your dentist know if you’re pregnant or could be pregnant, so they can adjust any treatments as needed.
This is probably the most controversial topic when it comes to dental care for pregnant women. While there is no conclusive evidence that dental X-rays are harmful for pregnant women and their babies, it’s probably best to wait until after you’ve given birth to get your X-rays.
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