There is no predictability for a toothache or gingival bleeding. It can happen at any hour of the day, and at any period of your life. What must you do if you develop dental problems such as a toothache during pregnancy?
Prevention is better than cure. When you are planning to have a baby, make a dental visit for all your restorative work, or any prophylactic treatment.
Also, there are several home remedies, such as clove, peppermint leaves, tea rinse, etc., for a toothache that are safe during pregnancy.
For an expectant mother, oral hygiene often becomes neglected because of the bouts of morning sickness and other problems. Hormonal changes coupled with any medications are likely to cause some oral discomfort. (1)
There are ways to manage them in the chaos of pregnancy too.
Pregnancy and dental visits
The wise thing to do is to visit your dentist when you plan a baby. This way, the dentist can check your mouth for any decay, bleeding or infection and treat it before it worsens. You can also get preventive treatment in teeth that show incipient lesions.
The second reason that you should see a dentist is so that he or she can prepare you for the anticipated dental problems that you may face during your pregnancy.
If you have to see a dentist during your pregnancy, remember that dental visits are safe. Just like you update your dentist about your medical history during a regular visit, keep your dentist updated about the medicines taken during pregnancy, any health problems so far, or anything that your doctor may have warned you about.
Generally, if you need any dental work during your pregnancy, the second trimester is considered the safest period for this.
However, this does not mean that you cannot seek treatment in the first or third trimester. In consultation with your obstetrician, treatment for a severe infection or a very painful tooth is possible.
Toothaches during pregnancy
Food cravings are at an all-time high through the course of your pregnancy. Cravings generally include sweets, candy, ice creams and acidic food. Naturally, all this makes you more susceptible to tooth decay. (2)
Every time you eat something sweet, the bacteria in your mouth metabolise the sugar and convert it to acid. These acids attack the enamel of your tooth to initiate dental decay.
The other reason that your teeth are at risk is vomiting. With increased bouts of nausea and morning sickness, the reflux of acid in the mouth increases, eroding the enamel of your teeth. This means the enamel weakens and your tooth can begin to develop decay.
Once decay sets in, you can experience a toothache anytime. The pain may only be when you sleep at night, which happens because of pressure changes in the tooth.
Or it may appear when you bite on to something, and then it will subside gradually. Coupled with the unpredictable nature of the hormones in your body, this toothache can give you a hard time.
Getting relief from a toothache
Over the counter medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen are contraindicated during pregnancy. So if you have a toothache, first visit your dentist for an effective solution.
You should not self- treat any condition on your own when you are pregnant. This puts your own, and your child’s life at risk.
When you visit the dentist, he or she will clinically examine the affected tooth. But, if they need a better understanding of the extent of decay, a radiograph will help.
While x-rays were done away with in the past, it is now known that using a special lead apron will protect your unborn child from the harmful radiation. (3)
If you are fortunate and the carious lesion is still developing, the dentist can perform primary restorative treatment for you, and give you a filling.
If the tooth is grossly decayed, and the dentist feels like you will need a root canal, you will most likely have to wait till you are through with your pregnancy. Although it is possible, most dentists prefer not to do any invasive procedure on an expectant mother.
The American Dental Association confirms that local anaesthetics are safe during pregnancy, but to avoid any undue complications, dentists prefer to do emergency dental procedures only.
As difficult as it may be for you, maintaining good oral hygiene during pregnancy is essential. If you cannot brush, at least rinse your mouth after you eat.
Try to save the sweets for the end of a meal, instead of snacking on them in between meals. On your dentist’s recommendation, you can use mouthwash for added protection from bacteria.
Home Remedies for a toothache
Since it is slightly uncomfortable to get dental treatment during pregnancy, here are some home remedies that you can turn to, to get relief from the pain.
- Take a glass of warm water and add two spoons of salt in it. Use this to rinse your mouth. Salt water rinsing will kill the bacteria in the mouth. However, avoid this if you are feeling nauseous or uncomfortable during any part of the day.
- Keep a clove near the affected tooth. Clove is a common toothache remedy. You can also keep a small cotton ball soaked in clove oil to get relief from a toothache.
- Cold compression with ice is another technique that will rid you of pain and swelling. Use this intermittently from the outside.
- You can also boil some tea, and rinse your mouth with that water once it cools down. Tea contains tannins which fight bacteria.
- Peppermint leaves also have fantastic pain relief properties. Additionally, they also freshen your breath. You can directly chew on these leaves, or boil them in the water like tea.
Other dental problems during pregnancy
The gingiva is particularly susceptible to overgrowth, inflammation and bleeding during pregnancy. This is pregnancy gingivitis, linked to hormonal changes. (4)
Women may also have pain in the gums, bleeding, and plaque up, along with a temporary swelling called a pregnancy tumour.
Even though you keep your gums free of tartar, you may notice loose teeth. This is an uncommon problem that occurs in pregnant women and can be because of changes in the periodontal ligament.
Pregnancy comes with its own set of problems and illnesses for a mother. But remember, a healthy mouth is a gateway to a healthy body, and dentists encourage that all expectant mothers take good care of their oral hygiene through their pregnancy.
This will minimise your chances of developing a toothache when you already have enough parts of your body giving you pain.