Toothache during pregnancy is an unexpected symptom compared to the usual symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, back pain, and ankle swelling. Therefore, dental health is an essential aspect of prenatal care.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a mother’s oral health condition plays a pivotal role in determining the child’s oral health (1). Moreover, dental problems in the mother may also cause adverse effects on the developing fetus (2). Thus, maintaining good oral habits can help prevent most dental problems.
Read on to learn about the causes, homecare, treatment, and prevention of toothache during pregnancy.
Causes Of Toothache During Pregnancy
- Morning sickness: The oral cavity is exposed to gastric acid more often than usual due to morning sickness. Gastric acid can erode dental enamel that could result in tooth sensitivity and dental pain.
- Dental decay: According to the CDC, around one in four women of childbearing age have untreated cavities. Also, increased acidity in the oral cavity, sugary cravings, midnight snacking, and reduced attention to oral health make pregnant women more susceptible to dental decay.
It is relatively common in the second trimester, with symptoms including swollen gums and bleeding gums. Bleeding is more common during brushing and flossing.
- Periodontal disease
It is characterized by infection of the tooth’s supporting structures, such as gums, ligaments, and bones. If it is not addressed, it may lead to loss of teeth.
- Periodontal disease
- Pyogenic granuloma
It is a red or round growth on the surface of the gums that can bleed at the slightest touch.
- Pyogenic granuloma
- Pregnancy tumors: Gum tissue overgrowth, called pregnancy tumors, can be seen in some pregnant women more commonly in the second trimester. This growth is non-cancerous and might happen due to excessive plaque. They resemble a raw raspberry and are more common in between the two teeth. They usually disappear after delivery. However, if they are bothering you with eating and speaking, you may consult your dentist regarding its removal.
- Loose or mobile teeth: Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone affect the periodontium. These hormones loosen the ligaments and bones supporting your teeth (2).
Home Remedies For Teeth Pain During Pregnancy
Anecdotal and some research-based evidence suggest that the following home remedies can calm the irritated nerves in your tooth and help reduce pain. However, you should seek your gynecologist’s advice to avoid any adverse effects on the fetus.
- Milk: Calcium and vitamin K found in milk are essential for gum health. Consuming warm milk twice a day can help reduce gingival bleeding and inflammation.
- Pomegranate: Some research has established the role of pomegranate against the microorganisms responsible for plaque formation. However, more research is needed to prove pomegranate’s therapeutic and preventive properties against microorganisms (5).
- Garlic: Garlic contains the antimicrobial agent allicin. Local application of garlic on the painful tooth can help reduce the pain and kill bacteria (6).
- Clove: Topical or local application of clove oil on the painful tooth can help reduce toothache and inflammation as it has an antiseptic effect. You can also rinse your mouth by adding a drop of clove oil to a glass of warm water (7).
- Aloe vera: Some research suggests that aloe vera has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties for teeth. However, more research is needed to establish the effect (8).
- Ice: Cold compresses from ice wrapped in a clean cloth can help reduce pain and swelling. You may apply ice on the affected area for around 20 minutes for a soothing effect (7).
- Teabags: Local application of a hot or cold tea bag can help in pain relief (9).
- Saltwater rinse: Warm salt water rinses can loosen the debris between teeth, disinfect the teeth, and reduce inflammation (7).
- Peppermint: Peppermint is antibacterial and has a numbing effect on the teeth. Rinsing your mouth with lukewarm peppermint tea can help reduce pain in teeth and gums (9).
- Ginger: Limited research says that ginger is as effective as ibuprofen in controlling pain. Ginger has an anti-inflammatory effect. However, more research is needed to establish ginger as an effective remedy against toothache (10).
- Cucumber: Cucumber is believed to have hemostatic and anti-inflammatory properties. Local application of a cold cucumber slice can help reduce throbbing toothache by temporarily stopping blood flow to the affected tooth.
- Vinegar: The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and acidic properties of cider vinegar can help in reducing tooth pain.
Do not try any of these methods without consulting your gynecologist.
Treatments For Toothache When Pregnant
You can opt for emergency dental care at any stage in pregnancy. However, it is recommended that elective dental procedures are better in the second trimester. Your dentist needs to know that you are pregnant.
The doctor might recommend the following safe interventions for toothache in pregnancy (2).
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and oxycodone (in limited dosages)
- Local anesthetics
Xylocaine or prilocaine with or without epinephrine is safe for dental procedures
Penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalexin, erythromycin, clindamycin, etc.
Prevention Of Toothache When Pregnant
The following preventive measures can help in preventing toothache during pregnancy (11).
- Brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day, flossing, and rinsing your mouth regularly with a mouthwash can help prevent various dental problems.
- If you cannot brush your teeth due to severe nausea and vomiting, you can use antacids before brushing your teeth. Alternatively, you can rinse your mouth with a mixture of one teaspoon baking soda in a cup of water.
- Limit sugary food and beverages.
- Eat healthy fibrous vegetables, fruits, or lean meats.
- Include food rich in calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins such as A, C, and D. It will ensure the healthy development of the baby’s teeth.
- Avoid smoking.
- Rinse your mouth with a mouthwash after vomiting.
- Do not skip your recommended bi-yearly dental checkup visits, even during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are dental visits safe during pregnancy?
The CDC states that dental care is safe and important during pregnancy. It recommends seeking emergency dental care at all stages of pregnancy, since you might not get the necessary time for dental appointments after childbirth.
2. Does toothache affect my unborn baby?
If the toothache is caused by gum disease, there is an increased chance of premature birth and low birth weight (4). The toxins produced by the bacteria of gum disease may produce cytokines, prostaglandins (PGE2), and interleukins (IL-6, IL-8), etc. These inflammatory markers can enter into the amniotic fluid and placenta of pregnant women with periodontitis. This inflammatory response can initiate premature labor (2).
Dental treatment during pregnancy is safe and important. If you plan to conceive, it is recommended to get all your cavities treated, impacted wisdom teeth removed, and teeth professionally cleaned up. Keep your dentist informed about the pregnancy and associated complications, if any. In addition, keep your gynecologist in the loop about your dental complications and treatment protocols.
- Oral Health: Pregnancy.
- Oral Health During Pregnancy.
- Is It Safe To Go To the Dentist During Pregnancy?
- Pregnancy and teeth.
- Dr. Sowmya Kote et al.; (2011); Effect of Pomegranate Juice on Dental Plaque Microorganisms (Streptococci and Lactobacilli).
- S Ankri et al.; Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic.
- S. P. Mangaiyarkarasi; et al.; (2015); Benefits of Aloe vera in dentistry.
- Toothache Home Remedies: The Top Five Natural Remedies To Relieve a Toothache.
- Farshid Rayati; et al.; (2017); Comparison of anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Ginger powder and Ibuprofen in postsurgical pain model: A randomized, double-blind, case-control clinical trial.
- DENTAL HEALTH DURING PREGNANCY.