Dental Care During Pregnancy: A Guide for Expectant Moms
How pregnancy affects your dental health and what to do about it
Pregnancy is overwhelming enough. Your body changes so quickly and in so many ways to accommodate the growing baby. The last thing you need is unexpected dental issues coming up and causing unnecessary worry and stress.
If you don’t know what to expect, the way pregnancy can affect your dental health can be scary. Worse yet, the simple act of going to the dentist can be daunting.
Which treatments are okay for you and your baby? How often should you go to the dentist while pregnant? Are dentist visits during pregnancy even safe?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We’ll be tackling common problems like these and much more in today’s article.
At Dental Express, removing decay-causing plaque isn’t our only specialty. We’re also experts at removing the uncertainty and confusion surrounding dental care as a whole, revealing best practices and healthy habits to keep your teeth shining through all stages of life.
Pregnancy is one of the most critical stages of life in which many rapid changes to your dental health can occur.
To help you on your journey, we created this dental care guide for pregnant moms to answer common questions, provide solutions, and remove the stress from taking care of teeth for two.
Knowing what could be coming down the road will help you navigate this wonderful and challenging part of your life with confidence, keeping you and your baby’s teeth safe and healthy.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Dental Health? (And Your Baby’s)
You may have heard the old wives’ tale before: Gain a child, lose a tooth.
It's not exactly the most promising statement.
Thankfully, although it does scare a lot of potential moms, this saying isn’t accurate (at least not in this day and age).
However, there is a nugget of truth to it.
Studies have shown a strong connection between pregnancy and dental health conditions. So, while losing a tooth is extreme, there are potential issues to look out for that become more likely during pregnancy.
During your pregnancy, you may notice your gums become red, sore, and more sensitive to brushing and flossing than usual, even to the point where they bleed. These symptoms are totally normal.
The surge in hormone activity as a result of pregnancy can make your gums more sensitive to plaque, leading to a mild form of gum disease known as “pregnancy gingivitis.”
Happening most often between the second and eighth month of pregnancy, this type of gingivitis occurs in around half of all women. Talk to your dentist as soon as you notice the symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis. Left untreated, a more severe form of gingivitis, periodontitis, could result in potential bone loss.
You can keep pregnancy gingivitis at bay with a strong at-home dental care routine and regular visits to your San Diego dentist during pregnancy. In the majority of cases, gums go back to normal after the baby is born. If the problem continues after childbirth, talk with your dentist about the best course of action.
Increased Risk of Cavities & Erosion
Women are usually at greater risk of developing cavities during pregnancy due to the diet changes and more frequent snacking that often comes with cravings.
If morning sickness becomes a common issue, then the high acidity levels from vomiting can also increase your risk of tooth decay, also known as erosion. We’ll talk more about how to keep your teeth safe from erosion below.
Taking care of your teeth at home becomes all the more important when you’re pregnant. Brush twice and floss once daily, and stay cautious.
If you start to feel any pain or discomfort, schedule a checkup with your local dentist in San Diego. Your teeth are more susceptible to oral health conditions during pregnancy, so it’s best to catch these issues sooner rather than later.
Loose Teeth & Shifting May Occur
Some of your teeth may feel loose or even shift during pregnancy, which can turn chewing into a chore. If this happens, try not to freak out, it’s completely normal! Unless you have a severe pre-existing issue, you don’t have to worry about your teeth falling out.
Loose teeth are due to the higher estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, which causes the tissues that hold your teeth in place to relax.
Like pregnancy gingivitis, this condition typically goes away after childbirth, but keep your dentist up to speed if the issue persists.
Growths on Your Gums May Appear
You can thank all the bonus pregnancy hormones again for this one. Heightened hormone levels can lead to small, round growths appearing in your mouth, usually on your gums.
Although they’re not cancerous or infectious, they’re referred to as “pregnancy tumors.” They can swell up and even bleed, but they’re harmless and most often go away after pregnancy.
Your dentist may elect to surgically remove them if they become too much of an issue, so make sure they’re aware of your situation as it develops.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Baby’s Dental Health?
What you eat and how you take care of your teeth have a profound effect on your baby’s dental health during pregnancy.
Between the third and sixth months, the hard tissue that makes up your baby’s teeth will start to form. To help your baby’s teeth grow strong and healthy, be meticulous with your dental care, and make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients in your diet.
The right amounts of vitamin A, C, D, phosphorus, calcium, and protein all work together to help your baby’s teeth form properly.
When you’re pregnant, you’re brushing and flossing for two. If your dental health is poor, you could pass harmful bacteria to your newborn, leading to complications like cavities during infancy. But, if you take good care of your teeth and make regular visits to your San Diego dentist, you’ll set your baby up with a healthy little set of chompers.
When we share these potential issues with you, we’re not trying to scare you. We’re also not guaranteeing that you will experience the same problems.
We’re sharing this information with you because, at Dental Express, we value transparency. We built this guide to inform you of what to look out for, so you can get the proper attention and care you need during your pregnancy.
Common Questions About Dental Care During Pregnancy
Can I go to the dentist while pregnant?
Absolutely. Dentist visits during pregnancy are strongly encouraged not just for your dental health, but the baby’s too.
Make the trip as early as possible to give your dentist the chance to build a dental care plan for the rest of your pregnancy. They may also suggest more frequent checkups or cleanings to be proactive about the increased risk of oral health issues.
Can I get my teeth cleaned during pregnancy? Which treatments are safe?
Don’t stress about routine cleanings, x-rays, local anesthetics, or treatments like fillings, crowns, root canals, and extractions during your pregnancy. According to the ADA, they’re all completely safe.
If you need emergency treatment, putting it off until after the baby is born will do more harm than good. Talk to your dentist about the safest way to move forward for you and your baby.
Dental work is crucial during pregnancy to help prevent further tooth decay and protect your baby’s health. The second trimester is considered the safest time to get dental work done, and your dentist may need clearance from your obstetrician before starting any treatments.
How often should you go to the dentist while pregnant?
This will vary from person to person.
It’s essential to visit your San Diego dentist as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Based on your dental health at the time of your visit, they’ll create a treatment schedule for your pregnancy.
If you have pre-existing dental issues, they may have you come in more often for checkups and cleanings.
What should I do about my morning sickness?
If you struggle with morning sickness, don’t brush your teeth right after getting sick. Brushing your teeth after vomiting makes them even more vulnerable to stomach acids.
Instead, dilute a teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water and rinse your mouth out like you would with mouthwash. This solution will neutralize the stomach acids in your mouth and protect your teeth from erosion.
I can’t brush my teeth without gagging. What do I do?
When just looking at your toothbrush makes you gag, it can be hard to stick to your dental care routine during your pregnancy. Our advice here is to try everything and be patient.
If you need to take a break every few seconds, do it. Listen to your body and do your best to work through it. Try a toothbrush with a smaller head. Switch to a new flavor of toothpaste - try them all if you have to.
Do everything you can to stick to your dental health regimen. When your dental health improves, your baby’s does too.
Dental Care During Pregnancy: Tips and Solutions
Maintaining your dental health during pregnancy can seem like a toothache. In reality, taking care of teeth for two isn’t all that different than the recommended everyday dental care routine.
Here’s a Dental Express approved list of tips for dental care during pregnancy:
- Brush twice and floss once daily - Nothing new here, but adherence is doubly important when you’ve got two mouths to take care of. Ensure your toothpaste contains fluoride, and look for the ADA seal of approval on all your dental care products. At the end of the day, exhaustion can set in, and it can be tempting to skip your nightly brushing and flossing. Don’t do it! Remember, a baby’s dental health depends on yours. If you’re too worn out, have your partner or a family member do it for you. That’s what unconditional love is all about.
- See your San Diego dentist regularly - To keep the increased risk of oral health conditions under control, dentist visits during pregnancy are a must. Let your dentist know if you’re trying to get pregnant, and as soon as you know you have a baby on the way. Setting up regular checkups with your dentist sets you and baby up for dental success.
- Don’t just visit your dentist. Talk to your dentist - Not every dental health issue is visibly noticeable. Your dentist can’t treat what he doesn’t know you have. If you feel pain or discomfort when chewing, or if you notice your gums are tender, let your dentist know immediately. The sooner you catch these issues, the sooner you can get them under control, so they don’t worsen and cause damage. Oral health can decline fast during pregnancy. Stay vigilant, and stay in communication with your dentist.
- Snack in moderation (whenever possible) - Cravings are a force to be reckoned with, and there will be times when resisting them just isn’t possible. But do your best to control your snacking as often as you can. The more contact your teeth have with sugars, the more susceptible they’ll be to decay. So when you do snack, make healthy choices whenever possible.
- Nutrition tips - Balance is key here. Fruits, veggies, dairy products (low fat or fat-free), whole-grain products, and lean proteins are all part of a baby-friendly diet. Avoid juices, sodas, and foods high in sugar whenever you can. If it helps, you can replace juice with milk for the extra calcium. Also, folic acid is crucial for reducing the risk of congenital disabilities and supporting the development of your baby’s teeth. You can get folate from dietary supplements and foods like leafy green vegetables, legumes, oranges, strawberries, bananas, folate-fortified grain products like bread, cereals, or pasta, and more.
- Don’t wait! - Unfortunately, it’s common for women to put off getting the dental care they need during pregnancy. Going to the dentist while pregnant often feels unsafe, so they put it off as long as possible, sometimes until after childbirth. We can't overstate the significance of seeing your San Diego dentist throughout your pregnancy. You’ll have a lot less time for dentist visits once your baby is born. So don’t wait! Make an appointment as soon as possible.
Staying on top of your dental care during pregnancy keeps your teeth healthy and safe from potential issues, saving you time, money, and stress. But most importantly, it gives your newborn the gift of a bright dental future.
Healthy Smiles for You & Your Newborn
Pregnancy can be insanely stressful one minute and incredibly rewarding the next. With so many things to worry about and keep track of, calling it overwhelming is an understatement.
At Dental Express in San Diego, dental care during pregnancy is nothing to stress about. From when you first share your exciting news with us to when your little miracle is born, you and your baby’s dental health are our top priority.
For safe, reliable, and quality dental care during pregnancy, make an appointment at any one of our San Diego locations today. We’d be honored to be a part of your journey.