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Dental Pain During Pregnancy: 2 Causes You Should Know

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Dr. Andreas

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Q.F. Nayibe Cubillos Morales

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Dr. Gustavo Assatourians D.D.S

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Is it common to have dental pain during pregnancy? Pregnancy is an exciting and wonderful time, but it comes with challenges, including dental pain. During pregnancy, hormonal and physical changes increase the risk of dental problems that can cause pain.

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Causes of Dental Pain in Pregnancy

There are two main causes of dental pain during pregnancy: gum disease and cavities.

Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, which may cause dental pain. If it reaches advanced stages without treatment, it can weaken the bone that supports the teeth, leading to infection, pain, and even tooth loss. It is generally caused by an accumulation of bacteria and food debris on or between the teeth (plaque); but during pregnancy, specific factors could contribute to its development:

1. Hormonal changes: These can cause the body to overreact to the presence of bacteria, causing severe inflammation of the gums.

2. Gingival enlargement: The enlargement of the gums is also known as gingival hyperplasia. It can be caused by the same hormonal changes or by the consumption of certain medications, such as nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker used to treat high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Caries

Caries are the degradation of the teeth, which occurs when bacteria produce acid as a result of contact with food debris, especially sugars. When the caries is advanced, holes are formed in the teeth; and if they reach the nerve inside, they can generate pain. Deep cavities also lead to dental infections, which can be painful as well as dangerous for both the mother and fetus.

 

The Risk of Developing Cavities in Pregnancy Increases Due to Several Factors

nausea

1. Nausea: During the first months of pregnancy, it is common for many expectant mothers to have problems brushing their teeth, due to an increased gag reflex when the back of the mouth comes in contact with a toothbrush.

2. Vomiting: Morning vomiting causes stomach acids to damage the surface of the teeth, causing lesions known as erosions. These make the teeth more prone to decay and increase dental sensitivity.

3. Excessive consumption of sugars: Hormonal changes can lead to increased anxiety, which then leads to increased consumption of carbohydrates and sugary foods.

Even with the above conditions clarified, it is important to mention that deep cavities that cause pain require months and even years to form, so if the pain due to cavities occurs during pregnancy, they have begun to damage the tooth well before conception.

 

6 Ways to Avoid Dental Pain During Pregnancy

1. Prevention

Although in many cases pregnancies are not planned, it is recommended that women who plan to conceive go for a prior dental check-up. In this way, the dentist can identify cavities or other problems that could cause dental pain during pregnancy and perform a professional dental cleaning with the application of fluoride to strengthen the teeth and prevent cavities.

2. Regular visits to the dentist

Pregnancies are often a surprise. If so, a dental examination is recommended during the first trimester, depending on how much the mother can tolerate during the visit. The idea is to identify cavities or any active infection that could cause problems later in pregnancy. Depending upon the needs of the mother, the dentist could schedule 2 or 3 visits during the gestation period.

woman-brushing-her-teeth

3. Maintain good oral hygiene

It is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste and to floss daily. To reduce nausea during brushing, it is advisable to use a small bristle brush. Soft bristle brushes are also recommended to avoid irritating the gums.

4. Healthy nutrition

Reduce the consumption of sugary foods as well as sugary and acidic drinks. It is recommended to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

5. Not brushing teeth right after vomiting

It is normal to want to brush your teeth after vomiting. However, rubbing the acids left in the mouth after vomiting against the surface of the teeth could damage them. Therefore, use fluoride rinses after vomiting and wait a couple of hours before brushing your teeth.

6. Salt water rinses

Warm salt water rinses can relieve sore and swollen gums. Add a tablespoon of salt to a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth with the solution for about 30 seconds.

 

Safe Treatments for Dental Pain during Pregnancy

1. In general, most dental treatments are safe during pregnancy. For example, there are safe anesthetics for pregnant women, and taking X-rays is not a risk for the baby as long as a lead apron is used for protection.

2. Usually, during pregnancy, only treatments that cannot wait are carried out. This is preferred as a matter of comfort since in the first months, nausea can make a dental consultation difficult. In the last trimester, the weight of the baby can complicate accommodation to the dental chair. Consequently, the second trimester is often chosen to perform needed dental procedures.

3. In pregnant patients without complications, treatments such as restorations or fillings, root canal treatments, and even dental extractions can be carried out without a major problem. However, if the mother has had health problems during pregnancy, it is important to bring them to the attention of the dentist to take the appropriate measures.

 

Medicines for Dental Pain During Pregnancy

Drug use during pregnancy should be approached with caution. One of the safest medications during pregnancy is paracetamol; however, it is not recommended to self-medicate. Whenever dental pain occurs, there is a cause to be solved by a dentist to eliminate the pain. Although pain relievers decrease pain, they do not solve the problem. This can be dangerous in cases of infection, since if it progresses it could compromise the life of the mother and the baby.

 

When to see a Dentist During Pregnancy?

pregnant-woman-dental-pain

See your dentist if you have any of the following symptoms:

 Dental pain

 Bleeding or swollen gums

Tooth decay or holes in the teeth

 Swelling of the cheeks or gums

 Infection or suppuration

 Discomfort after previous treatments, such as dental restorations.

It is important to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and discuss any dental concerns or problems you may have during your appointment.

 

Conclusion

Pregnancy brings with it a series of physical and hormonal changes that can cause and accelerate dental health problems.

Although most dental treatments are safe during pregnancy, it is advisable to stabilize the state of the patient’s dental health before conception or during the first months of pregnancy to avoid painful or infectious episodes as much as possible that could compromise the general health of the mother and the baby.

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References

1. Dds, G. A. (Sep 28, 2022). Tooth pain during pregnancy: 4 easy ways how to relieve it. Channel Islands Family Dental Office. https://cidentist.com/tooth-pain-during-pregnancy/

2. Gülmezoglu, A. M., & Hofmeyr, G. J. (2000). Calcium channel blockers for potential impaired fetal growth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2, CD000049. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000049/full

3. Higuera, V. (Aug 27, 2019).Pregnancy teeth pain: Causes, treatments, and home remedies. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnancy-teeth-pain

4. Nifedipine. (Oct 1, 2020). MotherToBaby. https://mothertobaby.org/es/hojas-informativas/nifedipine/

8. Tooth pain during pregnancy: What you can do about it. (Dec 27, 2019). The Mighty Mouth. https://www.themightymouth.org/tooth-pain-during-pregnancy-what-you-can-do-about-it

9. Dds, G. A. (Mar 7, 2023). What Causes You To Lose Your Teeth During Pregnancy? (2022). Channel Islands Family Dental Office | Dentist In Ventura County. https://cidentist.com/what-causes-you-to-lose-your-teeth-during-pregnancy/

10. Pregnancy Gingivitis: Causes, Treatment & Prevention. (s. f.). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22484-pregnancy-gingivitis

11. Pregnancy and Dental Work (Dec 9, 2021). American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/dental-work-and-pregnancy/

12. Lonzer, J. (Apr 28, 2021). Oral hygiene and dental care during pregnancy. Consult QD. https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/oral-hygiene-and-dental-care-during-pregnancy/

13. Mark, A. M. (2021). Pregnancy and oral health. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 152(3), 252. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2020.12.009

14. Wu, M., Chen, S. W., & Jiang, S. Y. (2015). Relationship between Gingival Inflammation and Pregnancy. Mediators of Inflammation, 2015, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/623427

15. X-Rays/Radiographs in pregnancy (Dec 1, 2021) American Dental Association. https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/x-rays-radiographs

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