Oral Health During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a miraculous journey filled with anticipation and transformation. However, amid the excitement, the importance of oral health often gets overlooked. This blog delves into the various oral health changes that occur during pregnancy, how they can affect both mother and baby, and emphasizes the crucial role of dental care during this pivotal time.

Oral Health Changes During Pregnancy

Oral health changes during pregnancy are primarily caused by a combination of hormonal changes, dietary alterations, and physical and emotional stressors. Here’s a detailed look at these factors:

Hormonal Changes:

  • Increased Hormone Levels: Pregnancy significantly increases levels of hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes can alter the body’s response to dental plaque, leading to increased gum inflammation and sensitivity, a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis.
  • Altered Immune Response: The hormonal changes can also affect the immune system’s response, making the mouth more susceptible to infections and periodontal diseases.

Dietary Changes:

  • Cravings and Increased Sugar Intake: Many pregnant women experience cravings, often leaning towards sugary snacks and carbohydrates, which can increase the risk of tooth decay.
  • Morning Sickness: Frequent vomiting associated with morning sickness introduces stomach acids into the mouth. These acids can erode tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay.

Physical and Emotional Stressors:

  • Oral Hygiene Neglect: Pregnancy-related fatigue and stress might lead some women to neglect their regular oral hygiene routine, increasing the risk of dental problems.
  • Changes in Saliva Composition: Some women experience changes in saliva production during pregnancy, which can affect oral health. Decreased saliva flow can lead to dry mouth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, while increased saliva can contribute to the feeling of nausea.

Nutritional Deficiencies:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D: These are essential for maintaining healthy teeth. If the diet during pregnancy is lacking in these nutrients, it could affect the health of the mother’s teeth.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD):

  • In some pregnancies, women may experience GERD, where stomach acids flow back into the esophagus and mouth, leading to enamel erosion.

These aforementioned factors can lead to the following oral health changes during pregnancy: 

Gingivitis and Gum Diseases: 

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to an increased response to plaque, resulting in pregnancy gingivitis – characterized by swollen, tender, and bleeding gums. If left untreated, it can progress to more severe gum diseases.

Enamel Erosion: 

Morning sickness, a common symptom in pregnancy, often brings stomach acids into the mouth, which can erode tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay.

Increased Risk of Cavities: 

Changes in eating habits, especially increased consumption of carbohydrates and sugary foods, can lead to a higher risk of cavities.

Pregnancy Tumors: 

Some women may develop benign, inflammatory growths called pregnancy tumors on their gums, which usually disappear after childbirth.

Impact on Mother and Baby

  • Preterm Birth and Low Birth Weight: Studies have shown a link between severe gum disease and preterm birth, as well as low birth weight.
  • Transmission of Bacteria: Mothers with high levels of cavity-causing bacteria can transmit these bacteria to their babies, increasing the child’s future risk of cavities.

Importance of Dental Care During Pregnancy

  • Regular Dental Checkups: Keeping up with dental appointments during pregnancy is vital. Inform your dentist about your pregnancy, as they may need to adjust your treatment plan.
  • Good Oral Hygiene Practices: Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash can significantly reduce oral health risks.
  • Balanced Diet: A diet rich in vitamins and minerals supports gum health and reduces the likelihood of dental problems.
  • Managing Morning Sickness: If you experience morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash to neutralize stomach acids.
  • Educate and Inform: Being informed about potential oral health changes and taking proactive steps can make a significant difference in maintaining your oral health and the health of your baby.


Pregnancy is a time to take extra care of your body, and this includes your oral health. Understanding the changes that occur in your mouth during pregnancy, the potential impact on your baby, and the importance of regular dental care can help ensure a healthier pregnancy journey for both you and your little one. Always consult with your dentist and healthcare provider to tailor an oral care routine that’s right for you during this special time.

Dr. Snehlata Kulhari

Dr. Snehlata Kulhari completed her Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) at Government Dental College in Punjab, India and her Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine in Boston. She has been practicing dentistry since 2011 and has founded Smile Mantra Family Dentistry to provide dental care and education to the community of Cary, NC. Dr. Kulhari stays up to date on the latest dental research and advancements in order to offer her patients exceptional dental care. 


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