In this article
Pregnancy can be a vulnerable time for the oral health of both mother and baby. It’s vital to practice excellent dental hygiene during pregnancy.
Many women experience dental problems while they’re pregnant. A mother’s oral health also is a strong predictor of how her child’s oral health will be.
Being vigilant about your dental care can keep you and your baby healthy.
Your body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. These changes can lead to dental problems if you aren’t vigilant about oral hygiene.
Factors that can impact oral health during pregnancy include:
Many women don’t realize the necessity of good oral health during pregnancy and tend to neglect dentist visits. Studies show that more than half of women did not see the dentist during pregnancy.1
Other women may experience increased fatigue or tenderness in the gums and may avoid cleaning their teeth as a result.
However, it’s essential to continue practicing diligent oral hygiene and to visit the dentist during pregnancy. It will help manage any dental conditions that might arise and ensure good dental health for your child.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing certain dental conditions. Hormonal, habitual, and physical changes can all affect your oral health.
The most common dental conditions that occur during pregnancy include:
Gingivitis is characterized as the inflammation of the gums. It’s a reversible early stage of periodontal disease. Your dentist or dental hygienist can treat it with a professional teeth cleaning.
Between 60 and 75% of pregnant women develop gingivitis.2 The hormone changes associated with pregnancy can increase inflammation in the body. You might notice your gums becoming red, swollen, and tender while pregnant.
Left untreated, gingivitis will advance into the later stages of periodontal disease, which can result in permanent bone loss. It can also lead to preterm birth or low birth weight.3
Cavities form due to a buildup of plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. It’s common for pregnant women to develop cavities from frequent snacking due to cravings or increased appetite.
However, untreated cavities can have a negative impact on your child’s dental health. If you have untreated cavities before pregnancy or develop them during pregnancy, the decay-causing bacteria can transfer to your baby after birth.
Transmission can occur through direct contact, such as sharing utensils or kissing your baby on the lips. Research shows that children are three times more likely to develop cavities if their mothers have high levels of untreated tooth decay.4
To prevent the spread of cavities from mother to baby, your dentist will recommend restoring them as soon as possible. Basic dental procedures, such as fillings and crowns, are safe during pregnancy.
Some women experience loose teeth during pregnancy, which is usually nothing to worry about. Estrogen and progesterone can loosen the bones and ligaments that keep your teeth positioned correctly.
After pregnancy, your teeth should not feel loose anymore. However, if a tooth falls out while pregnant, it is typically due to an underlying untreated dental condition, such as extreme decay or periodontal disease.
Around 70% of women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, usually in the first trimester.5 There is nothing to worry about as long as you practice good oral hygiene.
However, prolonged vomiting can expose your teeth to high amounts of stomach acid. Stomach acid can wear away at your tooth enamel, causing dental erosion.
It’s crucial to keep your teeth clean and healthy if you experience a lot of vomiting and morning sickness during pregnancy.
There are several ways to ensure good oral health during pregnancy, including:
Teeth cleanings, x-rays, and dental exams are safe during pregnancy.
You should still visit your dentist every six months to receive preventive care. Depending on your situation, a dentist may even recommend more visits while you are pregnant.
Dentists recommend scheduling appointments before the third trimester if you need restorative work done.
For invasive procedures that involve sedatives, such as dental implants, it may be best to wait until after you give birth. Teeth whitening, clear aligners, and cosmetic treatments should also be scheduled after your baby arrives.
Abnormal and unhealthy food cravings are normal during pregnancy.
Even so, eating enough healthy foods throughout pregnancy is vital to keep your teeth healthy and help your baby’s teeth form properly. This includes a mixture of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and unrefined grains.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), your baby’s teeth begin developing under the gums between the 3rd and 6th months of pregnancy. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet can help them form correctly.
The best thing you can do to keep your teeth healthy during pregnancy is to care for your teeth every day. You should:5
It is equally important to keep your baby's oral condition healthy. Understanding how early experiences impact your child’s dental health will help you ensure their positive development.
A baby’s first tooth erupts no later than 1 year of age.
Excessive bottle feeding or allowing a baby to drink from a bottle in bed can result in tooth decay. If the substance in the bottle is anything but water, the front teeth will bathe in it, ultimately causing cavities.
To help prevent tooth decay, dentists recommend utilizing these tips:
Breast milk contains sugar, which can contribute to tooth decay. Always wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after breastfeeding. Cleaning the gums helps reduce the chance of cavity formation once primary teeth grow in.
Breastfeeding during the first year of life has a few oral health benefits, including:
Pregnancy can lead to dental problems for both mother and baby. Good oral hygiene can help prevent and manage common issues such as gingivitis, cavities, and dental erosion.
You should continue to see your dentist regularly during pregnancy. It’s safe to get routine dental cleanings and procedures while pregnant.
Excellent oral hygiene practices can ensure positive dental health for your child. Untreated gum disease or cavities can increase your baby’s chances of having tooth decay later in life.
In this article