Your teeth may be the last thing on your mind when you're pregnant, but they need more care than ever.

By Kristi Pahr
Updated February 07, 2020
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Pregnancy changes a lot of things about your body that you probably never expected–the ever-present brain fog, itchy stomach, random, stray hairs in places you never had hair before, and the 'holy cow, who's gigantic boobs are these?' moment–but who knew it could change your teeth?!

One Croatian blogger took to Facebook to show her followers just how badly her pregnancy affected her dental health. In a startling photo, Dvornik bared a mouth full of bloody teeth and gums. Her caption explained, “This is a normal occurrence in pregnancy, although not every day...In the past, my gums were bleeding a little more strongly due to excess blood, hormones, etc.,”

Pregnancy can cause a few changes to the mouth. Gingivitis, increased risk of tooth decay, and small growths on the gums called pregnancy "tumors" are all relatively common side effects of pregnancy and maintaining a diligent dental hygiene regimen should be considered a vital part of prenatal health.

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Dental Issues During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can cause redness, swelling, and irritation to the gingiva, the part of the gum closest to your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease, which is much more serious and can result in tooth loss, but in most cases, pregnancy gingivitis will resolve once your baby is born.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), gingivitis may result from hormonal changes that exaggerate the response to bacteria in the gum tissue. This exaggerated response can cause swelling, irritation, and yes, bleeding.

Cavities

Cavities are caused when the protective surface of the tooth erodes and develops into holes into the tooth itself. If you've ever had one, you know how uncomfortable not only the cavity but also the repair process can be. Unfortunately, pregnancy can make you more susceptible to cavities for a few reasons. "Dental cavities may occur due to changes in diet such as increased snacking due to cravings, increased acidity in the mouth due to vomiting, dry mouth or poor oral hygiene stemming from nausea and vomiting," explains the ADA.

Pregnancy Tumors

They may sound ominous but pregnancy tumors aren't cancer. According to the ADA website, pregnancy tumors are "overgrowths of tissue called [that] appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. It is not cancer but rather just swelling that happens most often between teeth."

These benign growths may be related to excess plaque and they bleed easily. They have a red, bumpy appearance, similar to raspberries, and should disappear after your baby is born.

What's Not Normal in Pregnancy

Although many of these symptoms are out of the ordinary for non-pregnant life, keep in mind that loosening or breaking teeth is not a normal side-effect of pregnancy either. If you experience extreme dental pain or tooth loosening or loss, you should see your dentist immediately.

Dental Care During Pregnancy

Routine dental care is an important part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. If you are pregnant, be sure to let your dentist know before your scheduled cleaning. "Due to the increased risk of gingivitis and cavities, dentists should emphasize the importance of good daily oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush for two minutes, using a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and cleaning between the teeth once a day should be encouraged," says the ADA.

One thing to bear in mind, however, is that acid from vomiting can weaken your enamel. The ADA suggests that pregnant people "should be encouraged to avoid tooth brushing immediately after vomiting, which exposes the teeth to stomach acids. Instead, they should opt for rinsing with a diluted solution of 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to neutralize the acid."

Although good dental hygiene is always important, keeping up with it during pregnancy can help keep both you and your baby healthy.

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