The Effect Pregnancy Can Have On Oral Health (And What To Do About It)

Mar 11, 2024 | Patient Tips

Welcoming a new baby is an experience that transforms every aspect of a woman’s life, including her oral health. Pregnancy brings about hormonal fluctuations and lifestyle changes that can affect teeth and gums. Let’s explore the effects of pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding on overall dental health.

Pregnancy and Oral Health: A Dynamic Connection

Expectant mothers see a variety of different doctors, from obstetricians and midwives to chiropractors and physical therapists. Collaboration among these different healthcare providers addresses any physical, emotional, and medical needs throughout prenatal and postpartum care. 

Don’t forget to add your dentist to your list of appointments! Oral health is an important part of prenatal care. Dentists can offer specialized insights and practical tips for maintaining a radiant smile during pregnancy and postpartum.

Pregnancy does not necessarily cause damage to teeth and gums. However, changes in lifestyle, habits, and prenatal hormones might increase your risk of dental problems.

Diligent oral hygiene and visiting your dentist will help keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Hormones and Oral Health

During pregnancy, hormonal changes, especially elevated levels of progesterone and estrogen, can contribute to a range of oral health issues. One common concern in nearly 60-75% of pregnant women is gingivitis, marked by swollen, tender gums prone to bleeding. Increased hormone levels can amplify the body’s response to bacteria, leading to inflammation and a heightened risk of gum disease.

Tip: Use a waterpik to gently clean between the teeth and along the gum line.

Hormonal changes can also cause bumps in the mouth, called pregnancy tumors. While this might sound alarming, pregnancy tumors are non-cancerous growths on the gums often attributed to hormonal changes. These growths are usually temporary and can be effectively managed by maintaining good oral hygiene practices and seeking guidance from your dentist.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist regarding any changes to your oral health, such as gum sensitivity and growths.

The Impact of Morning Sickness on Teeth

Morning sickness and frequent vomiting often accompany the early stages of pregnancy. This can cover your teeth with strong stomach acids and erode tooth enamel, contributing to cavities.

Try these suggestions if you’re experiencing vomiting:

  • Don’t brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. Teeth enamel covered in stomach acid can be easily scratched by toothbrush bristles. 
  • Instead, rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain tap water.
  • Follow up with a mouthwash containing fluoride.
  • If you don’t have fluoridated mouthwash, smear a blob of fluoride toothpaste over your teeth with a finger. Rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Wait about an hour after vomiting before you brush.

It’s helpful to eat smaller portions more frequently to reduce morning sickness nausea. However, this isn’t always the best option for oral health. Snacking continuously throughout the day creates an acidic environment in your mouth, which can overwhelm your teeth and increase the risk of decay.

If you experience repeated severe vomiting, speak to your doctor or obstetrician about other strategies to manage your symptoms.

Postpartum and Breastfeeding

Postpartum and breastfeeding also play a role in oral health. Calcium demands during pregnancy and breastfeeding can impact tooth mineralization. Ensure you get adequate calcium through a balanced diet or supplements.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, you will need to increase the amount of calcium you eat or drink to protect your bones and the needs of your developing baby.

Here are some good sources of calcium:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Plain or sugar free yogurt
  • Calcium-fortified soy, almond, or other types of milk
  • Some nuts, such as almonds

Sugary pregnancy and postpartum cravings can lead to an increase in tooth decay. Focus on a balanced, healthy diet to support dental health.

Is It Safe To Visit The Dentist When Pregnant?

Absolutely! Always tell your dentist if you are pregnant.

Dentists will take extra precautions to ensure your care is safe for you and your developing baby. Common concerns about dental treatment during pregnancy include local anesthetics or numbing agents and dental x-rays. These are both typically safe during pregnancy. However, if you have concerns, speak to your dentist to discuss your individual needs and options.

Feel free to visit the dentist at any stage of your pregnancy. Many women feel most comfortable during the second trimester when morning sickness has eased, and the baby’s increased size has not yet become uncomfortable.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Expectant and New Mothers

  • Prioritize regular dental check-ups: Schedule a dental visit before or during pregnancy to address any pre-existing issues and establish a proactive oral care plan.
  • Practice good oral hygiene: Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and consider using mouthwash (after consulting with your dentist).
  • Stay hydrated: Water helps combat dry mouth, a common side effect of pregnancy, and aids in minimizing the risk of cavities.
  • Maintain a balanced, healthy diet: Eat nutrient-rich foods and snacks. Limit sugary and acidic foods that can contribute to dental issues.
4 Oral Hygiene Tips For Expecting Motherss

In summary, regular dental visits during pregnancy and postpartum are crucial to maintaining oral health, addressing specific concerns related to hormonal changes, and contributing to overall well-being for both the mother and the developing child. Dentists play an important role in guiding women through these stages, providing personalized care, and supporting them on their journey to a healthy smile.

Schedule Your Next Dentist Appointment

Looking for a dentist in Elkhart county? Contact any one of our three offices today to schedule your next appointment.

Call Topping Dental Group Nappanee Dentistry(574) 773-9700

Call Topping Dental Group Elkhart Dentistry(574) 848-7487

Call Topping Dental Group Middlebury Dentistry(574) 825-1252