How Does Pregnancy Affect Dental Health?

How Does Pregnancy Affect Dental Health?

In addition to morning sickness, body aches, constant emotional ups and downs and, of course, a growing abdomen, some pregnant women are also at an increased risk for certain dental issues. This heightened risk for dental problems is primarily due to the drastic hormone changes pregnant women inevitably experience, which can affect the way the body fights and respond to plaque.

3 Common Pregnancy-Related Dental Concerns

  • Tooth Decay
  • Gingivitis
  • Pregnancy Tumors

Tooth Decay

There are a number of reasons why pregnant women may be more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay. Pregnancy can prompt many women to consume more sugars and carbohydrates than usual, whether due to cravings or a seemingly insatiable hunger, which can, in turn, cause decay. Morning sickness can also result in decay, as frequent vomiting exposes your mouth to more acid (from the stomach) than usual, which can erode the enamel, or outer layer, of your teeth.

Though brushing and flossing may become more difficult due to exhaustion, sensitive gums or a more easily triggered gag reflex caused by morning sickness, it’s important to maintain optimal home oral care habits. This is not only vital for the health and appearance of your teeth and gums, but for the health of your baby as well because dental hygiene affects your entire body, not just your mouth.


As mentioned earlier, your mouth – along with virtually every other part of the body – can be adversely affected by the drastic hormonal changes resulting from pregnancy. For some women, these changes can cause swelling, inflammation and tenderness in the gums, a condition commonly referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.” In addition to noticeably swollen and tender gums, the most common indication someone has gingivitis is minor bleeding when brushing or flossing. Anyone who suspects they have gingivitis, whether pregnant or not, should consult their dentist sooner rather than later, as untreated gingivitis can progress into worse and more difficult to treat forms of gum disease.

Pregnancy Tumors

The third most common dental issue women face during pregnancy – especially during the second trimester – are overgrowths of benign (noncancerous) tissue along the gums or between teeth called “pregnancy tumors.” Though the exact cause of this swollen tissue is unknown, it is often said to be a result of excessive plaque buildup, which is why brushing and flossing twice daily is so important. Though these protuberances look worse than they really are, they can be quite sensitive, tend to bleed easily and have a noticeably red, raw-looking appearance.

 While pregnancy tumors usually disappear soon after your baby is born, it’s recommended you consult your dentist just to make sure it’s not something more serious. That way he or she can confirm this is, in fact, the issue at hand, and can recommend treatments accordingly.

Affordable, Comprehensive Dental Care in the Greater Houston, TX Area

While many women do not experience any dental discomfort or issues over the course of their pregnancy, it can exacerbate certain conditions, or even be the sole cause of new issues. That’s why it’s important to maintain good home dental care habits and continue seeing your dentist for routine checkups and exams throughout your pregnancy, just as you would normally.

With welcoming, state-of-the-art dental clinics in Bellaire, Conroe, Sugarland and Houston, not to mention our wide range of other medical services, St. Hope Foundation is proud to be the greater Houston area’s trusted source for quality, affordable and individualized health care services.

To learn more about why routine dental care is important throughout all stages of life, including pregnancy, or to schedule a dental appointment for you or someone you love, contact us online today. We offer same-day appointments for dental emergencies and accept nearly all major insurance plans.

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Rodney Goodie is founder and chief executive officer of St. Hope Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to medical care, pharmacy, clinical research and dental care.

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