Pregnancy can bombard you with a host of health issues and this holds true for your oral health too! Yes, toothaches and the sensitivity of the gums can be heightened during pregnancy. If during your pregnancy you start experiencing bleeding gums, inflammation, bad breath, plaque, and other issues related to dental care, know that they are a part of the pregnancy journey (1).
A woman’s body can go through a series of changes as a result of hormonal shifts during pregnancy. This can trigger some dental problems, especially if you’ve already neglected them even before you were pregnant. Did you know that around 60-74 percent of women have periodontal diseases during pregnancy? (1). Surprised? Read along to know more about pregnancy tooth pain and related issues:
Which Are the Most Common Oral Issues During Pregnancy?
Periodontal diseases like gingivitis are also associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including premature births and even low body weight. Also, those suffering from dental cavities can transmit the bacteria to the baby during pregnancy (1).
Women are at a high risk of gum problems during pregnancy. Gingivitis is a gum disease likely to occur during the second trimester. It can show up in the form of swollen or bleeding gums, especially during brushing and flossing. Also, pregnant women may notice a greater build-up of dental plaque. Too much plaque may cause noncancerous (benign) tumors, making it difficult to drink hot or cold fluids and eat food. Serious gum infections can make your journey into motherhood an unpleasant one (2).
What Are The Causes Of Tooth Pain During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women are prone to developing dental problems because of changes in their eating habits. Expecting mothers eat in a way that supports themselves as well as the baby. This is clear from the fact that the craving for food in expecting mothers can be very frequent and high. The most common reasons women often complain of oral issues during pregnancy are (2):
Nausea and vomiting are common things during pregnancy. It can start from very early, in fact from the first week of pregnancy itself. It’s common for expecting women to suffer frequent outbursts multiple times a day. When a person vomits, stomach acids can reach the mouth. These acids can have corroding effects on your gums and teeth. Acid reflux can wreak havoc by causing discoloration as well as rotting of your precious teeth.
- Sugar Cravings:
As women eat more to combat nausea during pregnancy, they start risking their oral problems. Sugar is one of the biggest culprits of most health problems and it’s the same for dental health as well. It fosters plaque, causing the eventual rotting of teeth. So, consumption of a high-carb diet and sugary foods can cause tooth decay, which you should be careful of.
How Can You Prevent Dental Problems During Pregnancy?
Women can undergo dental problems during pregnancy like tooth decay and gum disease due to numerous changes that the body undergoes to accommodate and care for the baby. It can take a toll on your health, including your gums and teeth. Practicing good oral hygiene prenatally can help you mitigate the risk of having dental problems later during pregnancy. Here are a few things you can do for maintaining oral hygiene (3):
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting as it may erode the tooth enamel and increase the chances of decay. Instead, flush your mouth with water or mouthwash after you vomit. Fluoridated mouthwashes can be helpful in controlling decay.
- Visit a dentist regularly so that they can help you manage your dental issues and help keep your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy. A visit to the dentist every six to twelve months is typically advised. During pregnancy, you can visit a little more than this though. A visit every couple of months will keep chances of any problems creeping up at bay.
- Floss between your teeth once a day. It keeps your gums and teeth clean and reduces the chances of fungal and bacterial growth.
- Switch to a healthy diet and limit intake of foods high in added sugar. Snack on foods low in sugar. Fruits are a great alternative if you feel the urge to indulge in sweet foods. Rinse your mouth after having sugary foods. Sugar and preservatives are better kept to a minimum during pregnancy and the weeks after childbirth.
- Steer clear of smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. Alcohol needs to be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. Also, chewing and smoking tobacco is a strict no-no at all times. Both tobacco and alcohol can have long-term health effects on the mother as well as the baby and should be avoided. You can opt for healthy detox drinks instead.
- Eat more calcium-rich foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt to protect your bones and have stronger teeth. If you are lactose intolerant, try calcium-fortified soy or almond milk and cheese.
- Vitamin D helps in the absorption of Calcium (4). Good sources of Vitamin D like fish, eggs, bread, and cereals can fulfill your daily requirement. Ask your doctor to prescribe supplements if you are deficient.
- Consider a cleaning at your doctor’s every three months. Plaque removal can also keep your oral health in check and ease any discomfort.
- If you decide to start a family, consult your doctor to proceed with all treatments you may need before the pregnancy.
Your dentist should be informed of your pregnancy. This will help them ensure better care and support for your baby too. If your doctor considers tooth removal, you might need to go through this dental procedure only in the second or third trimester. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends using non-mercury tooth fillings to reduce the harmful effects of the metal on pregnant women and their babies.
Taking good care of your overall health is necessary for a healthy pregnancy. It’s important that you do not neglect your oral health and share your dental concerns with your doctor. Did you undergo dental surgery or have oral health problems during your pregnancy? Let us know in the comments section below!
- Pregnancy and Oral Health
- Tooth-surface loss related to pregnancy-induced vomiting
- Pregnancy and teeth
- Vitamin D and calcium interactions: functional outcomes