Toothaches can’t always be avoided, even when you have great oral hygiene. It’s true that the chance of women developing dental problems increases when they’re pregnant. However, it is a myth that dental treatment during a pregnancy should be avoided because it could have bad effects on the fetus. Dental problems and toothaches should be treated and not ignored even if you are pregnant.
Causes of Tooth Pain during Pregnancy
Pregnancy causes a lot of physical changes in a woman’s body. Some of these changes have been suggested to increase the chance of developing dental problems which in turn can cause severe toothaches. Some of the most common causes of a pregnancy toothache are:
- Change in Diet
It’s well known that during pregnancy, a woman’s hormones, as well as her emotions, are all over the place. These factors can very well lead to changes in a pregnant woman’s dietary patterns. Cravings, which usually meant the increase of a pregnant woman’s sugar intake, cause tooth decay. This highly increases the risk of developing toothaches.
- Calcium Deficiency
It is vital for pregnant women to increase their intake of calcium because it used in the bone formation of the developing baby. Calcium is important because it is responsible for the natural remineralization cycle of tooth enamel which protects teeth from the formation of cavities. Lowered levels of calcium can, therefore, lead to weaker teeth and tooth pain.
- Pregnancy Gingivitis
This condition is common, affecting over 50% of all pregnant women with some degree of symptoms. The changes of a woman’s hormonal levels during pregnancy can cause swelling and inflammation of the gums. If not treated, this condition can develop into worse dental problems. These problems can include periodontal disease and severe pain that can come from the development of severe gum infections and abscesses.
- Morning Sickness
The increased incidents of vomiting which expose the teeth and gums to stomach acids can cause irritation of the gums and affect tooth enamel. This can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
- Poor Oral Hygiene
During pregnancy, a woman sometimes develops sensitivity towards the smell or taste of toothpaste and would rather not brush their teeth. Lack of brushing means poor oral hygiene and can easily lead to poor dental health and a higher risk of getting a pregnancy toothache.
What are the risks of ignoring a pregnancy toothache?
Many people still believe the myth that dental treatment during a pregnancy can adversely affect the health of your baby. Taking over the counter pain medications to cope with the pain can be exactly what causes harm to both you and your baby’s health.
Dental visits are safe. Even the American Dental Association (ADA) confirms this.
- Pregnancy gingivitis is common, however, if ignored, can lead to the development of severe gum infection and periodontitis. Infections, especially an active one, are extremely dangerous for both you and the developing baby and should be treated as soon as possible.
- Dental problems can exist even before you get a pregnancy toothache. It may very well be a sign that you need dental care from your dentist. Any dental problems that are left untreated may lead to permanent damage to your teeth and gums.
- Dental problems that are left untreated during pregnancy can affect the health and birth of the baby. There are various studies that have shown that pregnant women who have periodontal disease have a higher risk of delivering underweight babies and premature birth.
- Toothaches can be very stressful, even when you’re not pregnant. A prolonged, untreated toothache can increase the already potentially high stress levels of a pregnant woman. Higher levels of stress are considered by many doctors to be more harmful to your baby than the very small possibility that having a dental treatment can have adverse effects on the baby’s health.
Precautions when having Dental Treatment during Pregnancy
Most dental procedures, local anesthetics, and X-rays are safe even when you’re pregnant. The only thing you need to keep in mind is to talk to your dentist before having a procedure done. Inform him of how far along the pregnancy is, if it is considered a high-risk pregnancy, or if you are taking any medications.
X-rays can be a major concern during pregnancy. Your dentist will do his best to avoid taking an x-ray unless it is really necessary. If getting an x-ray done is unavoidable and required for the treatment of your toothache, the harmful effects of radiation can be curbed to by using a lead apron and thyroid collar.
The dosage of anesthesia is kept to a minimum so that there are no adverse effects on the health of your baby and you are still comfortable during a dental procedure.
Some medications, like oxycodone and Percocet, that help to manage the pain from a toothache can be harmful to the unborn baby and can cause birth defects. When you are pregnant, be sure to consult your dentist before taking any medicines for your toothache. Acetaminophen is one of the specific pain relievers that are safe for pregnant women. To deal with tooth infections, antibiotics like penicillin can be prescribed.
- The Best Time for treatment
The most recommended period for having dental treatments is during the 2nd trimester or later, as this is considered the safest. If a pregnancy toothache develops sometime during your first trimester, ask your dentist if the treatment can be postponed for a few weeks.
- Home remedies and treatments
If your pregnancy toothache is mild, you can temporarily relieve the pain using a few popular toothache home remedies. Some of these are saltwater, cold packs, or clove oil. These remedies can be used if you cannot schedule a visit to your dentist.
Preventing Pregnancy Toothaches
- Dental exams
Prevention is always better than treatment. Go regularly to your dentist for exams and cleaning. If you are planning on getting pregnant, make sure to have your dentist check if you have any existing dental health problems that need to be treated now, before the pregnancy.
Watch what you eat during your pregnancy. Consumption of sugar should be avoided and an increased amount of calcium should be taken to cover the development of the developing baby’s bones.