How Pregnancy Affects Your Mouth and Dental Health

man kissing pregnant woman on cheek

How Pregnancy Affects Your Mouth and Dental Health

Pregnancy affects every part of your body as you experience major physical changes. And your dental health can change because of pregnancy, too. Hormonal shifts, morning sickness, and other factors all make your teeth and gums become much more vulnerable during this time. Below we explain how pregnancy affects your mouth, and what you should do to protect your dental health. 

Some Dental Problems Are More Common During Pregnancy

Maintaining good dental health is even more important when you’re pregnant. But even if you brush and floss every day and you were cavity-free at your last dental appointment, pregnancy can make you more vulnerable to conditions like gingivitis that pose serious risks. Here are some of the most common dental conditions that happen during pregnancy.

1: Gingivitis

The drastic hormonal changes you experience during pregnancy increase your risk of developing gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. In fact, it’s very common—around 60% to 75% of pregnant people get gingivitis.

Bleeding, redness, swelling, and tenderness in your gums are all symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis. If you notice these signs, schedule a dental appointment right away. If left untreated, gum disease can cause serious damage to your teeth and gums, and can even affect your unborn baby

2: Dry Mouth

Pregnant people are also more susceptible to a condition called dry mouth, which is when your body can’t produce enough saliva to properly lubricate your mouth. This condition makes it more difficult for your mouth to eliminate bacteria naturally, leading to bad breath and an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. 

If you suffer from dry mouth during pregnancy, try sucking on sugar-free hard candies or lozenges to stimulate saliva flow. Drinking plenty of water can also help keep your mouth hydrated. 

3: Enamel Erosion

Morning sickness is an unfortunate but common side effect of pregnancy. But besides being extremely unpleasant, vomiting also leaves an acidic coating on your teeth that wears down their enamel. 

Morning sickness can also increase the risk of tooth sensitivity during pregnancy. When the tooth enamel is weak from repeated exposure to the acids from your stomach, the pulp inside the tooth becomes more sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet foods and drinks. 

If you experience morning sickness, it’s important to rinse your mouth with water or alcohol-free mouthwash immediately after vomiting. And although it may be tempting, you must avoid brushing your teeth right after you throw up. This only spreads the acid around and causes more damage, so make sure to wait at least 30 minutes. 

4: Increased Risk of Cavities

Your risk of cavities also increases during pregnancy, because hormonal changes often make your saliva’s pH balance more acidic. Plus, pregnancy can cause cravings for sweets, and the bacteria that cause cavities thrive on sugar. When combined with morning sickness, a diet high in sugar can do severe damage to your tooth enamel, causing cavities to grow quickly.

5: Loose Teeth

During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called “relaxin” that literally relaxes your body tissues in preparation for childbirth. However, this hormone can cause your gum tissue to relax as well, which makes your teeth slightly loose. 

If your mouth is healthy, teeth that feel slightly loose are usually nothing to worry about during pregnancy. But loose teeth can also be a sign of advanced gum disease, so make sure to schedule a dental appointment if you notice your gums are bleeding, swollen, receding, or tender.   

How to Protect Your Teeth During Pregnancy

Because pregnancy puts you at higher risk of so many dental issues, it’s essential that you take extra care of your oral health. Taking good care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy can even help protect your baby’s health—bacterial infections like gum disease can transfer to your child during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. 

Follow these tips to maintain excellent oral health while pregnant:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time, and floss at least once a day.
  • Attend regular dental visits—dental cleanings are not only safe, but vital during pregnancy. They help remove the plaque and tartar that lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Eat a diet rich in vitamins A, C, and D, as well as calcium and phosphorus to help strengthen your teeth and gums.
  • Drink extra water and avoid eating sweets as much as you possibly can.

Holistic Dentist in Prescott, Arizona

Your oral health plays a crucial role in your baby’s health, too. At Prescott Dentistry, we can provide the preventative treatments you need to help improve your oral health during pregnancy. 

If you have any concerns about recent changes to your teeth or gums, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Call us at 928-445-1660 today to schedule an appointment. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (7/28/2023). Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash