A pregnant woman is holding her belly

Oral Health and Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes changes in your body which can affect your gums and teeth. Besides fluctuating hormone levels, you have more blood flowing through your body, and more acid in your mouth. Among the common oral health issues that arise during pregnancy are:

  • Gum disease: Gingivitis is when you have red, swollen or sore gums. Your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. This more serious gum disease is marked by swelling and infection in the gums and bones that keep your teeth in place.
  • Loose teeth: High hormones levels can affect the tissues and bones that keep your teeth in place.
  • Pregnancy tumors: These non-cancerous lumps form on swollen gums, usually in between teeth. This can cause bleeding. The tumors may be caused by too much plaque (sticky bacteria that forms on teeth). Pregnancy tumors usually go away on their own. But you may need to have them removed by surgery sometime after you give birth.
  • Tooth decay: Because you have more acid in your mouth than usual during pregnancy, the enamel (hard, outer layer of a tooth) is more likely to break down. If you have morning sickness and throw up often, you have even more acid in your mouth. Damaged enamel can promote cavities.

How Oral Health Issues Can Affect Pregnancy

Any infection is cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the baby’s health. Untreated periodontal disease can assist the movement of bacteria from the mouth into the blood stream where it can increase the level of labor-inducing fluid.

This increase in the level of labor-inducing fluid can result in premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birth weight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).

Your Pregnancy and Dental Visits

If you’re planning to become pregnant, or think you might be pregnant, it’s important to see your dentist. You’ll want to find and treat any dental problems as well as map out an oral health plan for the rest of your pregnancy. Be sure to tell them about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking.

The kind of dental treatment you get depends on the problem that you have, and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Your dentist may avoid treating some problems in the first trimester of pregnancy because this is an important time in your baby’s growth and development.

Routine x-rays can usually be postponed until after the birth. If they are necessary, the ADA and the American College of Gynecologists say dental X-rays are safe with appropriate shielding.

Your dentist also may suggest postponing some dental treatments during pregnancy if you’ve had a miscarriage in the past, or if you’re at higher risk of miscarriage than other women.

Maintain Oral Health During Pregnancy

Here’s how you can help keep your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy.

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and floss every day: brush using a toothbrush with soft bristles twice a day. Floss once a day to clean in between your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing around the gum line can remove plaque and prevent periodontitis and tooth decay.
  • Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash: If morning sickness makes you feel too sick to brush your teeth, rinsing can wash away acid
  • Eat healthy foods: Your baby’s teeth start developing between three and six months of pregnancy. Nutrients, like calcium, protein and vitamins A, C and D, help your baby’s teeth grow healthy.
  • Limit sweets: Instead of sweets, drink water and pick healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

Enhanced Dental Benefits During Pregnancy

Florida Blue Dental’s Oral Health for Overall Health program provides plan members who are pregnant with dental benefits for the duration of your pregnancy when enrolled in our program. These benefits have been shown to improve not only oral health, but also achieve healthier pregnancy outcomes.

Learn more about the enrollment process.