How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Oral Health (and What to Do About It)

Sep 01, 2023

How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Oral Health (and What to Do About It)

Your body naturally undergoes many changes as you experience pregnancy. New patterns in oral health emerge, making you more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Pregnancy presents a wide range of changes for your body. The hormone balances that support the process create new conditions seemingly unrelated to your baby’s development. Oral health issues may arise for the first time in your life while you’re expecting. 

Your dental health needs change in the prenatal period leading up to childbirth, and you can look to Los Altos Family Smiles as your oral care partner during this exciting time. We’ll help you both with dental care and education about how pregnancy affects your teeth, if you need it. Together, we’ll help your smile manage through this time of change. 

Oral health changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a hormone-driven event, and it’s natural for the balance of hormones to undergo radical changes from conception to birth and beyond, creating both desirable and unwanted changes. 

Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone drive many changes throughout your body, from preparing your uterus to support the fetus to changing the way that blood vessels vascularize your body. These hormones also cause changes to connective tissue so they can stretch more easily to accommodate childbirth. However, this can also lead to teeth that are loose in their sockets.

These changes affect your oral health by making your teeth and gums vulnerable to certain conditions. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease that makes your gums tender and easy to bleed, takes root more easily. Also, tooth enamel may be more susceptible to decay. Cavities need special care during pregnancy. If you’re struck heavily by morning sickness, vomiting brings stomach acids into contact with tooth enamel, causing further risk of cavities.

Your eating habits can change, Cravings can increase your desire for foods that challenge your oral health. Ice cream is a common craving that can increase sugar levels in your mouth. 

Brushing and flossing can cause nausea for some pregnant women, making them shy away from their pre-pregnancy dental care routines. The tender conditions caused by gingivitis can also reduce attention to preventive care. 

What to do about oral health risks during pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or planning to be in the near future, talk to your dentist about your plan. Our caregivers will help you manage oral care with check-ups as needed throughout your pregnancy. Stay in contact with our office, as changes can come quickly. 

Don’t worry about dental X-rays while you’re pregnant. These won’t harm your baby, and identifying tooth decay early is important. Regular exams and cleanings help to keep gum disease in check.

Try your best to maintain your home dental care routine of twice-daily brushing and flossing once a day. Switching brushes, toothpaste, and even your dental floss brand may help you manage pregnancy challenges. 

Dental amalgam fillings

If, despite our combined efforts, you develop a cavity, we’ll use resin composite fillings rather than mercury amalgam fillings. While the presence of mercury in existing fillings poses no threat to you or your baby, placing or removing mercury amalgam fillings during pregnancy may release small amounts of the substance into your bloodstream where it may migrate to the placenta. 

Contact Los Altos Family Smiles as part of your pregnancy planning so your dental care needs receive the attention they deserve. You can request an appointment online or by calling our office. We’re ready to help make sure your smile is ready for those first mom and baby photos.