Your baby’s first teeth begin to erupt around the six-month mark. By now you are probably sleep-deprived as it is, but when that toothache hits, you may find yourself wondering if it’s safe for you to use over-the-counter pain relievers or request an appointment with your doctor’s office. The answer to both questions is yes!
Many pregnant women suffer from toothaches during pregnancy without realizing what they’re experiencing is completely normal and that medications can be used safely. Knowing this information up front can save a lot of unnecessary worry and concern so we’ve put together the following guide on how to deal with a toothache during pregnancy and why pregnant women get them in the first place.
Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life. However, this is not always the case for many women who have to deal with pregnancy toothache. This form of toothache is one of the annoying symptoms that accompany pregnancy. It can range from minor sensitivity to severe pain and can be triggered by a variety of factors. It’s important to understand these different factors in order to seek appropriate treatment.
Pregnancy Toothache – Causes
Pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of dental problems, including toothaches. This can be attributed to the hormonal and physical changes that come with being pregnant.
According to research, pregnant women can be more prone to dental problems that act as a stimulus for teeth and gum pain due to:
– Increased blood flow: During pregnancy, the body works overtime to support the mom-to-be and her unborn child. There’s increased blood flow, which is meant to ensure all body systems receive adequate supplies of oxygen and nutrients as required. Unfortunately, however, this increased blood flow can lead to dental problems such as tender, swollen gums that cause sensitivity and even pain.
– Hormonal changes: Increased levels of pregnancy hormones can cause changes to the body’s normal mechanism for fighting bacteria in the mouth. This can lead to dental health issues like periodontal infection and sore and/or painful teeth and gums.
– Pregnancy gingivitis: As mentioned above, one of the dental health problems that can occur as a result of hormonal changes in pregnant women is swelling and inflammation of the gums. This condition is known as gingivitis; and when left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis – a form of severe gum infection often characterized by the dental abscess. According to statistics, about 50% of all pregnant women experience some symptoms of gingivitis during their pregnancy. These symptoms often include teeth pain.
– Calcium deficiency: Though pregnant women absorb calcium more efficiently, many still experience low levels of this important mineral. This is due to the fact that pregnant women need lots of calcium, which is utilized in fetal bone development. Low levels of calcium in pregnant women can have a negative impact on the natural re-mineralization cycle of the enamel and lead to an increased risk of dental problems like cavities, tooth sensitivity and pain.
– Morning sickness issues: Increased vomiting and reflux during pregnancy can cause stomach acids to come up and enter the mouth. These acids can dissolve the crystals that make up the surface enamel of teeth and cause dental erosion (or tooth surface loss). They can also soften the enamel and make it easier for its surface to be worn away through abrasion and teeth grinding. In addition, these acids can irritate the gums. When this happens, issues like teeth sensitivity and pain may arise.
– Bad eating habits: Psychological factors, as well as hormonal changes, during pregnancy can trigger cravings for junk food and sugary treats. The consumption of sugar during pregnancy can cause tooth decay, which can result in toothache.
– Poor oral hygiene: Some pregnant women feel extreme disgust at, or aversion for, the taste or smell of toothpaste forcing them to avoid brushing. This neglecting of oral care duties can increase the risk of tooth decay and other problems that can rise to chronic or intermittent toothache.
Reasons Why You Should Not Ignore Toothache during Pregnancy
Toothache during pregnancy could be a symptom of a much more severe underlying issue that may end up putting you and your baby at risk. Don’t ignore it or try to treat it using over the counter pain medications. Ignoring pregnancy toothache could lead to:
- – Periodontal disease, which is associated with major pregnancy-related issues like low weight babies and an increased risk of premature birth.
- – Advanced dental problems that ultimately result in permanent damage to teeth.
- – Increased risk of potentially life-threatening conditions.
- – And increased stress levels that could end up harming the baby.
Treatment for Pregnancy Toothache
In all cases of pain or discomfort involving teeth, jaw and gums during pregnancy, see your dentist as soon as you can for a proper evaluation and treatment. Your dentist may refer you to a specialist for advanced assessment and treatment if your condition warrants it.
Treating Toothache during Pregnancy – Precautions
Dental problems should – and can – be treated even during pregnancy. But there are some precautions that must be observed with regards to x-rays, anesthesia and medications for dental pain relief; as well as considerations that need to be taken into account.
Some x-rays can be harmful to you and your baby. Because of this, your doctor will only take x-rays when it’s absolutely necessary. And even then, he/she will use all the safety precautions to try and eliminate any potential risk.
Anesthesia during pregnancy is associated with some risks, and your dentist will typically use minimal amounts to protect the unborn child while still ensuring comfort.
Some pain medications for toothache contain ingredients that could result in complications or even birth defects. Your dentist will only use medications that are known to be safe and you must, therefore, let him/her know you’re pregnant.
4. Timing of treatment
The second trimester is generally regarded as the safest and most appropriate period for getting dental treatment. If your condition isn’t severe (not caused by a disease or an infection), try to put up with it until your safest period of after birth.
Toothache During pregnancy: How to Cope
Pregnancy can limit some of the regular medical interventions used to treat tooth pain. But this doesn’t mean treatment for pregnancy toothache is not possible. With proper precautions, your dentist can successfully help you find relief and reduce or eliminate your tooth pain. There are also some simple steps you can take to manage your dental condition.
- Be careful when tooth brushing and flossing your teeth. Avoid causing more irritation to your teeth and gums by utilizing a soft-bristled brush.
- Avoid foods that trigger tooth pain or sensitivity. Take note of those trigger foods (hard, soft or cold items) and get them out of your menu.
- Stay away from sugary treats. Reduce or avoid (if you can) sugary foods that you’re consuming even if they aren’t the ones triggering your pain. Sugars feed the oral bacteria and can aggravate your condition.
- Get your teeth checked regularly. Pregnancy shouldn’t be an excuse for avoiding regular dental checkups. It’s the most reliable way to keep your teeth healthy and pain-free. But remember to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant.
At-Home Remedies For Pregnancy Toothache
As mentioned earlier, you can’t just pick any over-the-counter medication to try to relieve dental pain. Some pain medications can be dangerous during pregnancy. But you can always try these natural remedies that are known to be safe and effective.
- Cold ice/cold packs
- Salt water
- Clove oil
- Hot compresses
- Guava leaves
- Warm water