Pregnancy Dental Concerns | MouthHealthy - Oral Health Information from the ADA

Pregnancy and your dental health

When you’re expecting a baby, there’s SO much to do. But busy as you are, don’t let good dental habits drop off your list! Taking good care of your teeth and gums is even more important right now, since pregnancy causes changes that can elevate your risks for cavities and gum disease.

Your baby’s teeth are developing during pregnancy, too — so this is a great time to learn how you can support their future dental health.

Is it safe to visit the dentist while I’m pregnant? 

Yes. In fact, experts at the American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage you to see your dentist while you’re expecting.

It’s a good idea to take care of dental cleanings and any needed procedures (such as cavity fillings) before your baby arrives. Seeing your dentist now also ensures you get the care you need to deal with pregnancy-related symptoms you might be experiencing.

When should I tell my dentist I’m pregnant?

Right away – even if you aren’t 100% sure yet. Let your dental team know how far along you are and share your expected due date. This can help them plan appropriate care and look carefully for signs of pregnancy-related issues in your mouth.

During your visit, let your dentist know about any medications you are taking. If your pregnancy has been classified as high-risk, your dentist or doctor might recommend that certain dental treatments be postponed.

How will pregnancy affect my mouth?

Many people have no dental discomfort during pregnancy. However, the demands on your body while you’re carrying a baby can change your risks for certain conditions that affect your teeth and gums.

Some people develop a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis, which causes swollen, tender gums that may bleed a little when you brush or floss. Higher hormonal levels during pregnancy affect the way your gums react to plaque, the sticky film that builds up on teeth, especially between dental cleanings.

Since gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease, your dentist will recommend ways to treat any symptoms you are having. You may need more frequent cleanings during pregnancy, or an anti-microbial mouth rinse.

Cavity risks can rise during pregnancy, too. If you are eating more carbohydrates than usual, this offers extra fuel for the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Morning sickness can increase the level of acids in your mouth, causing damage to the shiny, protective coating on your teeth (enamel). Your dentist may recommend rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to cleanse away excess acids.

How can I protect my teeth and gums while I’m pregnant?

Now more than ever, it’s important to brush twice daily for at least two minutes each time. (Morning and night is generally best.) You should also floss once a day to cleanse away particles of food between teeth and drink plenty of plain water in between meals.

You might find it a little more difficult to maintain your regular dental routine while you’re expecting, especially if you feel tired or busy. You may have a more sensitive gag reflex or tender gums that make brushing a little more uncomfortable.

If you need extra motivation, keep in mind that your baby’s health depends on you. Poor health habits during pregnancy have been linked with premature delivery, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and other concerns. Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated and taking extra-good care of your teeth and mouth are good for you and your child.

What are pregnancy tumors?

Pregnancy tumors are overgrowths of tissue that can develop on the gums, usually during the second trimester. These growths are not cancer, just a form of swelling that typically shows up between teeth. They may be related to an excess buildup of plaque in between teeth.

Pregnancy tumors often bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking, raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk with your dentist about ways to address them.

Should I talk to my dentist about the medications I’m taking?

Your dentist should have the full list of prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs you are taking, including vitamins and dietary supplements. Since this may have changed during pregnancy, be sure to update your dentist when you visit.

Keeping your dentist informed also helps in choosing medications you might need before or after dental treatment, such as antibiotics or pain relievers. Both your doctor and dentist want to choose medications that are safe for you and your baby.

What if I need local anesthetics during pregnancy?

If you’re pregnant and need a filling, a root canal or a tooth pulled, one thing you don’t have to worry about is the safety of the numbing medications your dentist may use. They are safe for both you and your baby.

One study followed a group of pregnant parents who were given anesthetics (such as lidocaine) during dental procedures and a group that received none. Researchers found no difference in the rate of miscarriages, birth defects, premature births or birth weight between the two groups.

Is it safe to have dental X-rays while I’m expecting?

Yes, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy. Dental X-rays emit very low doses of radiation, and your dental team will take steps to minimize your exposure by properly positioning you for imaging and focusing the beam on the area of interest.

Dental X-rays also do not need to be delayed if you are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding. According to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, you are not considered at risk of passing along radiation damage to future offspring by participating in medical imaging. 

What do I need to know about my baby’s dental health?

Your baby’s teeth will begin to form between the third and sixth month of your pregnancy. This is one reason doctors and dentists recommend a healthy diet rich in vitamins A, C, D and calcium. Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and dairy products will nourish your baby’s developing teeth.

When your newborn arrives, all 20 primary (baby) teeth will already be in place underneath their gums. To set up a healthy routine, wipe down their gums with a damp cloth or a small piece of gauze after feeding. Here are more tips for creating mouth-healthy habits that will benefit your child for life.