Why Your Dental Health Matters During Pregnancy

Expecting a baby is certainly exciting. You imagine how you’ll decorate the nursery, the name you’ll choose, and (swoon) all those adorable infant outfits you’ll buy. When you spend so much time focusing on your baby’s wellbeing, though, you might put your own health on hold. Thing is, you need to be dedicated about going to the dentist for your 6-month checkups. Why, well, as it turns out, your dental health matters during pregnancy — and can impact your baby, too.

Studies have shown a clear connection between oral health and pregnancy. In fact, brushing your teeth can make all the difference in having a healthy pregnancy or not. That’s why you should try to take care of your teeth prior to pregnancy if possible, according to Dr. Jason Auerbach, DDS, a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon. “It’s important to visit your dental professional if you’re planning on getting pregnant in order to determine the need for dental care prior to pregnancy,” says Auerbach. “While it is generally considered safe for some diagnostic and restorative dentistry to be done throughout pregnancy, it is clear that it’s preferable to avoid x-rays and, any significant treatment if you can.”

This is why your dental health matters during pregnancy.

How Can Poor Oral Health Affect Your Pregnancy?

Staying on top of your teeth is important every day, but even more so when you’re expecting? Pregnancy has the potential to take a toll on your teeth, says Dr. Greg Marchand, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN. “Dental health is extremely important in pregnancy,” says Marchand. “Infections in the teeth can easily cause preterm labor and harm to your pregnancy, so it’s very important you continue seeing your dentist while you are pregnant.” Plus, having a root canal isn’t something you want to experience when you’re expecting.


Here are other ways pregnancy can affect your dental health:



If you brush your teeth and see some pink in the sink, blame it on gingivitis. “Hormonal changes, particularly increased levels of progesterone, can make gums more susceptible to inflammation and infection,” explains Dr. Uma Mishra, M.D., an OB-GYN. “This can lead to gingivitis, characterized by red, swollen, or tender gums that may bleed during brushing or flossing.” Gingivitis might go away on its own, but if left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a gum disease that can cause gum recession, bone and even tooth loss.

Pregnancy Tumors

Pyogenic granuloma is a scary-sounding medical condition that can occur during the second trimester of pregnancy. Characterized by tumors on the gum, “these are noncancerous growths that typically appear as red, swollen, or bleeding gum tissue and may be associated with poor oral hygiene,” says Mishra. According to researchers, pregnancy tumors of the mouth affect up to 5% of pregnant women.

Tooth Decay

Chalk it up to those cravings for sugary snacks, and you might be facing extra cavities during your next dental visit. But those sweets aren’t the only cause for cavities, since morning sickness (and its BFF, acid reflux) expose teeth to stomach acid, leading to enamel erosion — and a greater risk for a root canal.

Tooth Mobility

If you think that your molars are moving, you might be right. Says Mishra: “Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the ligaments and bones that support the teeth, causing some women to experience temporary tooth mobility or loosening.” But don’t worry: Your teeth should return to their spot postpartum.

Dry Mouth

Cotton mouth is common during your nine months, and it’s (again) due to your hormones. “Pregnant women may experience dry mouth due to hormonal changes or as a side effect of certain medications,” says Mishra. Just be sure to stay hydrated with lots of H20, because dry mouth can be the root cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Dental Abscesses

“In some cases, pregnant women may develop dental abscesses, which are painful infections that can occur around the tooth root or in the gums,” adds Mishra. “Prompt treatment is necessary to prevent complications and ensure the safety of both mother and baby.”

How Does Getting A 6-Month Checkup Help?

You’re feeling pukey and downright miserable. But if you thought that you could reschedule your 6-month dental visit until after you deliver, think again. Your dentist is your first line of defense against damaging tooth troubles. “Regular dental checkups are not just a routine, they are essential for maintaining optimal oral health, especially during pregnancy,” says Dr. Joyce Kahng, DDS, a cosmetic dentist. “A 6-month dental checkup allows the dentist to assess the mother’s oral health status, address any emerging concerns, and provide guidance on oral hygiene practices tailored to the unique needs of pregnancy.” Coupled with professional cleanings, these checkups can manage (and even prevent) a potentially painful health issue.

How Can Pregnant Women Take Care Of Their Teeth Every Day?

You don’t have to wait until you go to the dentist to protect your pearly whites. Beyond brushing, you can keep your teeth clean (and stay healthy) by incorporating some small steps to your oral routine. For starters, baking soda can work wonders for the impact morning sickness can have on your mouth. “If you’re experiencing vomiting from severe morning sickness, it would be prudent to rinse with a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of baking soda to help neutralize the stomach acids,” advises Dr. David Chen, DDS, a dentist in New York. “If you don’t neutralize the acids and proceed to brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, you run the risk of causing enamel erosion from the stomach acids.”

And if you can, squeeze in an extra sesh of daily brushing and/or flossing. Bumping up your brushing can put a pause on plaque. “Due to elevated hormone levels while pregnant, your body sometimes overreacts to the formation of plaque which can result in pregnancy tumors,” says Chen. “However, if you can brush or floss an extra session a day, you can mitigate some of the plaque buildup.”

But what you brush your teeth with matters as well. “Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using alcohol-free mouthwash is essential,” says Kahng. “A balanced diet rich in important nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamin D, can also support dental and overall health.”

Your teeth can take a one-two punch during pregnancy, but for the most part, problems can be prevented if you’re invested in your oral health. You should always speak with your OB-GYN to let them know if you need a dental procedure when you’re pregnant. That way, both your OB-GYN and your dentist can create a plan together to take care of both you and Baby.


Study cited:

Gondivkar, S. Gadbail, A., Chole, R. 2010. “Oral pregnancy tumor,” Contemporary Clinical Dentistry



Dr. Jason Auerbach, DDS, a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon

Dr. Greg Marchand, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN

Dr. Uma Mishra, M.D., an OB-GYN

Dr. Joyce Kahng, DDS, a cosmetic dentist

Dr. David Chen, DDS, a dentist in New York

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