Does Pregnancy Affect Oral Health?

October 8, 2021 Jeffrey T. Baker, DDS PC

You might not think about it, but pregnancy can have a big effect on your oral health. During pregnancy, hormones are constantly changing, cravings kick-in, and oftentimes your teeth are at greater risk to be damaged and decayed.

In this post, we’re going to talk about the potential problems you’ll experience during pregnancy and what you can do about them. If you need to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Baker today.

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Gum Disease

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 60 to 75% of pregnant women will experience gingivitis. This is an early stage of gum disease, the effects of which are reversible. However, this is not true for advanced gum disease known as periodontitis which can lead to bone deterioration and tooth loss.

Cavities

In addition to gum disease, pregnant women also have a higher likelihood of getting cavities, and this is for a number of reasons. First, due to morning sickness, vomiting is more common during pregnancy and this brings up stomach acid to eat away at your teeth.

Second, changes in diet and eating habits are extremely common and to be expected during pregnancy. This can expose your teeth to sugary and acidic foods you weren’t previously eating, but now you’re craving them. Because your teeth are at heightened risk for decay, you should try to avoid foods that are worse for your teeth if possible. These include: 

  • Anything pickled
  • All hard, chewy, and/or sour candy
  • Dried and citrus fruits
  • Carbohydrates like crackers, potato chips, and white bread

Jaw Pain

Your joints are one of the many body parts affected by the hormonal changes throughout pregnancy, and this includes your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. You may experience jaw stiffness, tenderness, pain, and/or difficulty chewing. 

You may also feel your teeth wiggling or just loose. This could be the result of your joints and ligaments loosening up, but it’s always a good idea to check with your dentist to identify the cause. 

What You Can Do About It

The most important thing you can do when you experience any of these situations is to consult your dentist and let them know you’re pregnant and what you’re experiencing. Depending on your specific situation, seeing your dentist more than once every 6 months may be worthwhile so your dentist can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Brushing your teeth may upset your body and potentially make you gag. It might be the flavor of your toothpaste or how much it foams up. You can try a different flavor and brand to see if that helps. Also, flossing and using a fluoride mouthwash become more important during pregnancy because both of these will reach areas that your toothbrush will miss.

Schedule an Appointment 

Dental care is especially important during pregnancy because your teeth and gums are at increased risk of decay and disease. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Baker or Dr. Castile, call our office in Shelby Township, MI at (586) 992-9222. We’d be more than happy to help you find relief for what you’re going through.

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