Pregnancy: Can It Cause Oral Health Problems?

During pregnancy, your body experiences a lot of changes. But, did you know changes to your diet and lifestyle during this time can also impact your oral health?

Can pregnancy cause oral health problems? 

During pregnancy, your body experiences a lot of changes. But, did you know changes to your diet and lifestyle during this time can also impact your oral health? 

Caring for your teeth during this time is important for both you and your growing child.  

If you’re pregnant or planning to be pregnant soon, here’s what you should know about looking after your teeth during your pregnancy.  

Does pregnancy cause oral health problems? 

Pregnancy does not cause poor oral health directly but a change in hormones, diet and lifestyle factors can make you more susceptible to gum disease. In fact, around 70% of pregnant women experience gingivitis during pregnancy.  

Brushing regularly and seeing your dentist while you are pregnant can help ensure your mouth, teeth and gums remain in a healthy condition. 

What is gingivitis? 

Often called periodontal disease, gingivitis is another name for early-stage gum disease. It’s a mild and treatable stage of gum disease that causes redness, swelling and sore gums. Anyone can get gingivitis, pregnant or not. Some symptoms of the disease include: 

  • Tender or sore gums 
  • Puffy gums 
  • Bleeding when brushing 
  • Bad breath 
  • Sensitive teeth 
  • Loose or separated teeth 

What causes gingivitis? 

Gingivitis is caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. Plaque – that sticky white stuff that builds up on teeth – contains bacteria. If we leave plaque for too long, it hardens into tartar. Our gums react to this increase in bacteria by becoming red, inflamed and sore.  

If you have a lot of tartar in your mouth your gums may begin to recede away from your teeth. They might also look puffy, feel tender and even bleed a little when you brush or floss. Left untreated, gingivitis can turn into gum disease, which is harder to treat.  

Why does pregnancy increase the risk of gingivitis? 

If anyone can get gum disease, why does pregnancy increase the risk of gingivitis? Many people complain of tender or bleeding gums during pregnancy. These symptoms are consistent with gingivitis and usually happen because: 

Your hormones are changing  

During pregnancy your body is going through a massive change and so are your hormones. Levels of progesterone and oestrogen are 10 to 30 times higher than usual and reach their peak during the third trimester.   

This increase in hormones can increase blood flow to your gums, resulting in more sensitivity to plaque and tartar buildup. During this time, you’re more likely to see an increase in the early signs of gum disease including tenderness, bleeding when brushing and puffy gums.  

Pregnant people aren’t the only ones at risk of gingivitis. Teenagers also experience fluctuations in hormones during puberty that increases their risk of gum disease.  

Morning sickness 

Morning sickness (which doesn’t just take place in the morning) isn’t just uncomfortable. It’s also bad for your teeth. The acids found in vomit wears down tooth enamel making them susceptible to cavities. 

If a person suffers from long bouts of morning sickness, they may have a higher chance of developing oral health problems during pregnancy. 

Changes in diet and lifestyle 

Morning sickness and hormone changes can result in changes in your diet and lifestyle. Some people may eat a lot more food while pregnant while others may only be able to stomach certain types of foods. These changes in what and how often you eat can affect your teeth. 

Whenever we eat, our mouths produce sugars and acids to break down food. If you’re eating more food, consuming more sugar or snacking more frequently, you’ll also be producing more acid which increases your risk of gum disease. 

How to prevent gingivitis in pregnancy 

One of the best ways to prevent gingivitis during pregnancy is to develop healthy habits before you’re pregnant. This includes: 

  • Flossing daily 
  • Brushing twice a day 
  • Brushing for two minutes 
  • Brushing the back of your teeth and your tongue 
  • Using a flouride toothpaste 
  • Rinsing your mouth after vomiting 
  • Avoid constant snacking 
  • Visit your dentist regularly 

If you think you’re suffering from pregnancy gingivitis book an appointment with your dentist immediately. With four locations in Wellington and a commitment to delivering dentistry with a gentle touch, we make it easy to stay ontop of your oral health during pregnancy.  

Book an appointment at Gentle Dental now