Physical changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of dental problems -- and pain -- due to infections, tooth decay, sensitive teeth or red, swollen gums. Getting this pain evaluated and treated can pose some challenges during pregnancy, since x-ray exposure should be minimized, and certain medications need to be avoided during pregnancy. However, there are some steps you can take to manage dental pain that develops when you are pregnant.
Step 1: Evaluate
See your dentist if you are having tooth or gum pain. As long as your dentist knows you are pregnant, steps can be taken to ensure any dental procedures or treatment recommendations are safe for you and your unborn baby.
Step 2: Brush and Floss
Dental care is important during pregnancy, since it can help prevent tooth decay and gum irritation that can lead to pain. Vomit contains acids that can also lead to tooth decay, making dental hygiene an even greater priority if you have morning sickness. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily, and gently clean between your teeth at least once a day with floss or oral irrigation.
Step 3: Rinse
If you struggle to regularly or thoroughly brush your teeth because of nausea, tooth pain or irritated gums, rinse your mouth after you eat -- using water or a fluoride mouthwash. The American Dental Association suggests that after vomiting, a rinse of 1 cup of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking soda can be used as an alternative to a commercial mouthwash. Just be careful to not swallow these baking soda or fluoride rinses.
Step 4: Medicate
If you have tooth or gum pain that is not relieved by proper dental hygiene and rinses, your dentist or doctor may recommend a pain reliever or a topical numbing agent. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is commonly recommended during pregnancy for pain relief. But since most medications have not been adequately studied for safety during pregnancy, discuss risks and benefits with your doctor and dentist before using numbing gels or pain relievers.
Things You'll Need
Fluoride Toothpaste and Mouthwash
Dental Floss or Oral Irrigation System
Topical analgesic or pain reliever, if recommended by your doctor or dentist
If you have sensitive teeth, pay attention to which foods worsen your pain. Hot or cold foods and beverages, for example, may aggravate this discomfort. Also, ask your dentist about toothpastes and mouthwashes that may help.
Schedule an appointment with your dentist if the pain doesn't subside within a day or two, or right away if you have severe pain, making sure to alert the dental office that you are pregnant. Also see your dentist if you have bleeding gums, or if you also have gum or face swelling or drainage of pus, and let both your dentist and doctor know if you also have a fever. While some home strategies may be effective in reducing pain, you'll need to receive care if the source of your pain is an infection, abscessed or decayed tooth, or gum disease.
Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD
- American Family Physician: Oral Health During Pregnancy
- The American Dental Association: Pregnant? 9 Questions You May Have About Your Dental Health
- American College of Medical Toxicology: Benzocaine Topical Products
- Canadian Family Physician: Treating Pain During Pregnancy
- American Dental Association: Is It Safe To Go To the Dentist During Pregnancy?