Sensitive Teeth during Pregnancy

Why it happens & how to safely treat it

October 26, 2023
Oral Health

You have enough to worry about during your pregnancy without the hassle of tooth sensitivity, especially since you need to be extra-cautious about medicine.  We’ve put together a look at some of the main causes of tooth sensitivity during pregnancy, and what you can safely do about it.  

  • Gum disease
  • Enamel erosion 
  • Dry mouth
  • Swollen gums 
A healthy smile isn’t just good for you-- it’s good for baby, too!  

Gum Disease During Pregnancy

With your hormones running just as rampant through your body as your baby tossing in your belly, your body changes the way it responds to infections and bacteria.  This-- along with poor hygiene and the usual suspects-- can cause gum disease.  

It’s extremely important to prevent and treat this appropriate, as a 2010 scientific study found that gum disease can be a catalyst for preterm labor or low birth weight.  

Regular brushing and flossing-- when performed correctly-- along with the use of mouthwash prevent most gum diseases.  Set a timer or use an electric toothbrush with a timer to ensure that you’re brushing for a full 2 minutes.  

The American Dental Association approves the use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash during pregnancy.  It is also important to have plaque professionally removed regularly.  

Avoid smoking-- not only can this negatively affect your baby, the heat and chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can irritate gums and decay teeth.  This leaves your mouth wide open to bacteria and other nasty conditions.  

Natural remedies that you can do at home include upping your vitamin C & A intake.  Vitamin C plays a key role in fighting infections, and vitamin A helps build bones-- just be careful to ask your doctor what dosing to use.  Overdoing vitamins-- just like anything else-- can have adverse effects.  Gargling with warm water and sea salt kills bacteria and soothes inflammation.  

Check your teeth, tongue and gums regularly for any concerning changes.  See a dentist or doctor right away if you notice anything.  

Enamel Erosion During Pregnancy

Morning sickness doesn’t just ruin your ability to enjoy certain foods-- it can also rough up your esophagus and eat away at your teeth.  

Stomach acids are strong-- they’re designed to break down food into particles small enough to be absorbed into your body.  Leaving that kind of acid around in your mouth after a bout of vomiting not only tastes and smells bad, it also begins to break down your tooth enamel.  

If you can’t brush your teeth or use mouthwash right after a bout a morning sickness, at least rinse your mouth with water.  This will reduce the acid remaining in your mouth and refresh the feel of your palate.  

Avoid biting or chewing on inappropriate materials, such as nails or pens.  Teeth weren’t meant for that, no matter how nervous you might get!  If you have to chew something, chew xylitol sugar-free gum.  

Avoiding eating acidic and sugary foods and drinks.  The acids eat enamel and sugar decays it.  Acidic and sugary foods can also cause further bouts of pregnancy-related acid reflux or nausea-induced vomiting, which further erodes teeth.  

Also, check out our article on how to establish a healthy mouth pH for more tips.  

The stretched skin around your belly requires more moisture to stay healthy-- so does a dry mouth.  

Dry Mouth During Pregnancy

Pregnancy hormones change a lot about your body, and can create a dry mouth when you’ve never had one before.  It’s important to keep your mouth hydrated and moisturized so that bacteria doesn’t grow and teeth don’t decay.  

Chewing xylitol gum is recommended to produce saliva, a key component in fighting dry mouth and plaque.  It’s sugar-free-- chew it up to four times a day.  

Drinking plenty of water also helps-- the daily recommended amount is higher than you think.  (If you’re not experiencing tooth sensitivity but you do have a dry mouth, try sucking on ice chips-- as a bonus, this can also help with nausea.)  

Check with your dentist for recommendations of dry mouth washes that are safe for pregnancy.  These mouthwashes contain ingredients that deliver moisture and help retain it.  

Also, consider running a humidifier at night to moisten the air.  Breathing moist air can relieve dry passages and mouth.  

Lastly-- you should be doing this anyway-- skip caffeine.  This includes coffee and carbonated beverages, which usually also contain another culprit of tooth sensitivity: sugar.  

Sometimes the cause of tooth sensitivity isn’t anything sinister-- sometimes it’s just hormones.  

Swollen Gums During Pregnancy

Swollen gums can have multiple causes.  We’ve already covered bacteria and gum disease, but something as simple as increased blood flow can also swell your gum line.  

Your body is pumping blood more strongly throughout to support oxygen levels and detoxification while you’re pregnant.  Your gums are no exception.  Increase blood flow can swell gums, making your mouth very uncomfortable.  

Avoid foods that are very hot or cold, as this can trigger painful nerve reactions in tender gums.  Use a soft-bristled brush to avoid over-stimulation.  And check with both your dentist and your doctor for which over-the-counter pain medications are safe to use if the pain is too much-- better yet, make an appointment for a check-up, just in case.  

You’re making extra efforts to stay healthy for baby-- include your oral health on that list!  

Even if you’ve never experienced tooth sensitivity prior to pregnancy, it’s important to treat it carefully.  See a dentist right away if any develops-- it could be the pregnancy, or it could be something else.  Either way, it’s better to know so that you can respond accordingly. 

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