Your body goes through a world of changes during pregnancy. Pregnancy affects every aspect of your health including your oral or dental health. As important as it is to visit your gynaecologist/obstetrician during your pregnancy, do not forget to make regular visits to your dentist as well. 

Read on to find out the most common dental problems that you are likely to face during your pregnancy and tips to prevent them.

Pregnancy and Dental Changes

Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more babies develop inside your womb (a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in your lower abdomen). Pregnancy usually lasts for about 40 weeks (9 months) and is divided into 3 primary segments or trimesters.

The changes in your hormones during pregnancy are responsible for affecting your gums and teeth and can lead to gum diseases, in certain cases. Hormonal changes can increase the acidity in your mouth, leading to an increase in cavities. It is during pregnancy that certain bones in your mouth may loosen up, leading to loose teeth which can pose serious dental problems.

Your body’s inflammatory response increases during the third trimester of pregnancy (week 28 to week 40), leading to an increase in the number of bacteria and plaque (a sticky film that contains bacteria) in your mouth, resulting in swelling and bleeding of the gums. 

Common Dental Problems During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can worsen existing dental problems or create new ones. Some of the most common dental problems during pregnancy include:

1. Pregnancy Gingivitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. If you develop gingivitis during pregnancy, then the condition is known as pregnancy gingivitis. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or floss (a cord of thin filaments used to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth). Pregnancy gingivitis can result in serious forms of gum disease. You might be required to get frequent dental cleanings done to prevent this.

2. Increased Risk of Tooth Decay. Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is the breakdown of teeth due to acids made by bacteria. Pregnant women may be more prone to cavities for a number of reasons such as:

  • Eating more carbohydrates than usual.

  • Increased sugar intake due to cravings.

  • Morning sickness (a common symptom of pregnancy and is marked by nausea and occasional vomiting) can increase the amount of acid in your mouth, increasing the risk of tooth decay.

3. Pregnancy Tumors. Sometimes, an overgrowth of tissue called “pregnancy tumors” can appear on your gums, most often during the second trimester (week 13 to week 27). The most common symptom is swelling which happens most between teeth. These tumours are red in colour and can bleed easily, causing pain and discomfort. 

Dental Care During Pregnancy

It is very normal for you to be anxious to visit your dentist during pregnancy. Remember that getting a checkup during pregnancy is safe and important for your dental health. Your dentist will not only help you with pregnancy-related dental symptoms but can also protect your baby from the side-effects of certain dental problems. 

Research shows that gum diseases in the mother can cause low birth weight in babies and premature delivery (when a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy). Regular dental cleanings and procedures like cavity fillings can be done during pregnancy. Let your dentist know that you are pregnant and also keep your gynaecologist/obstetrician informed about your dental visits.

Your dentist might not prescribe medications and avoid doing an x-ray during pregnancy. However, if an x-ray is a must, then your dentist will have to take special care and protection.

Tips to Prevent Damage to Your Teeth During Pregnancy

A few important tips to prevent damage to teeth during pregnancy:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily.

  • Floss your teeth, at least once every day.

  • Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleaning of your teeth. Eat a healthy diet and limit food and drinks high in added sugar. Avoid tobacco products and minimize alcohol (it’s advised not to drink alcohol during pregnancy, and tobacco products should be avoided at all times).

The need for comprehensive dental care during pregnancy is extremely important. Follow important oral hygiene practices and visit your dentist regularly.

Stay Informed, Stay Healthy, and Enjoy your Pregnancy!

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.