700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Dental Care During Pregnancy

Aug 01, 2023
pregnant woman getting dentist check-up

Your body changes during pregnancy – and so will your mouth! Most oral changes are common, caused by increased blood flow and circulating hormones, and will resolve once your baby arrives, but some dental problems can and should be addressed during pregnancy.

Your Gums Will Probably Bleed

During pregnancy, gums commonly feel more tender and can even bleed when toothbrushing. This is called pregnancy-induced gingivitis. Flossing might hurt. To cut down on plaque and bad breath, you should keep doing both – use a soft bristle toothbrush and gentle, circular strokes. You can rinse your mouth periodically with a mild saltwater solution (one teaspoon in one cup warm water) to help soothe your gums. About 40% of pregnant people will develop periodontitis, or inflammation that eats away the bone around the teeth. African Americans and smokers are at increased risk.

About 5% of pregnant people will develop a small, red lump on the gums, called a pyogenic granuloma. You may also notice that your joints and ligaments relax to prepare for your delivery. Your teeth may feel a little loose too. Usually, pyogenic granulomas go away, and loose teeth improve once baby is born.

You Can Combat Nausea Without Harming Your Teeth

Nearly 70% of pregnant people have increased vomiting and nausea. Stomach acid is bad for the teeth because it eats away the hard, outside tooth enamel layer, which cannot grow back. Less enamel leads to sensitive teeth and tooth decay. If you vomit or taste stomach acid, dentists recommend that you don’t brush your teeth right away because brushing scrubs away that enamel layer. Instead, rinse with baking soda (1 teaspoon with 1 cup of water) to get rid of the acid in your mouth and wait 30 minutes before toothbrushing.

If you turn to crackers or similar snacks to help relieve your nausea, be careful about how often you’re snacking. Any type of carbohydrate breaks down into sugar on the teeth, so drink water right away to help rinse out these pasty snacks.

You Should Get Regular Dental Care While You’re Pregnant

Current guidelines state that dental care and dental treatment are safe during all trimesters of pregnancy. Before 2013, this wasn’t the case, and not everyone you talk to will be up to date on these recommendations. But that year, the three large organizations -- the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) -- came together and said there is no cause for concern.

What we know now is that pregnancy is not a good reason for you to shy away from regular or urgent dental care, or for a dentist to shy away from you. When it comes to an infected tooth, waiting or delaying care means that you may unnecessarily take more pain medication and antibiotics, and endure pain and stress than you should. Without treatment, a small problem becomes a bigger problem and requires more extensive care.

If any of the conditions mentioned above get worse during pregnancy, or you have concerns, call a dentist. If you’re sensitive to smells and tastes early on, or you think you might be too uncomfortable laying back at the end of your third trimester, keep those factors in mind. But you’re the star right now—take care of yourself. Pregnancy is a chance to instill better overall health. You’ll have more than just yourself to take care of very soon!

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Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Kim Hammersmith, DDS, MPH, MS

Kim Hammersmith DDS, MPH, MS is a part of the Dentistry physician team at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.