Teeth breaking during pregnancy: reasons behind it and what to do

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We know that teeth breaking during pregnancy sounds scary. You can also experience bleeding gums during pregnancy. But there should be no worry. With just a few extra steps, you can get ahead of your dental problems.

But first, congratulations! We hope that you and your baby live a happy and healthy life.

To answer one of your many questions, we would like to say that your baby does not weaken your overall health. You are literally forming a human being in your body. And that takes hard work. You are also going through hormonal changes during pregnancy. Naturally, you need extra necessary nutrients, vitamins, minerals, a bit more meticulous dental care, and dental visits for your and your baby’s health.

Why are my teeth breaking during pregnancy?

In the first trimester of pregnancy, pregnant women can crave carbohydrates and acidic food. After satisfying the cravings, they may either neglect or forget about their dental hygiene. Because, as a result of pregnancy hormones, you experience a “sensitive teeth pregnancy”. That makes the gums more sensitive to irritation and causes bleeding gums during pregnancy, leading to pregnancy gingivitis. And that can, even maybe unconsciously, discourage pregnant women from brushing their teeth.

Not brushing your teeth will cause bacterial plaque buildup. And that will cause teeth breaking during pregnancy, eventually leading to tooth decay and tooth loss. Not only does it affect your dental and oral health, but it can also cause premature delivery.

Enamel breaking off teeth during pregnancy

It is reported that in 70% of pregnancies, mothers have experienced nausea and vomiting. This can also result in the deterioration of your dental health. When you feel nauseous, your mouth gets filled with saliva, which is full of amylase (an enzyme that helps with the digestion of carbohydrates by breaking them down to sugar and acid). And when you vomit, the acid in your stomach also travels up to your mouth.

Stomach acid can destroy the enamel. Because of your morning sicknesses, you may experience vomiting excessively. The enamel can restore itself with the help of minerals and fluoride. That is why you should take extra care of your dental hygiene as well as your diet. Otherwise, you might experience abrasion of the enamels, and indirectly tooth decay.

How do pregnancy hormone changes affect teeth?

During pregnancy, your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels increase. And that leads to the sensitivity of the gums. You can see plaque buildup if you are not thorough with your dental hygiene. Plaque build-up later causes bleeding of the gums. This gum disease is called pregnancy gingivitis.

Pregnant women can see pyogenic granuloma (pregnancy tumors) often due to these circumstances. Your pregnancy gingivitis should heal after giving birth. If they do not, it may need surgical removal. Stay in touch with your dentist post-birth for necessary interventions.

Smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy

Smoking tobacco products, pregnant or not, is already a bad and unhealthy habit. It has no benefits. There are more or less 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Most of them, such as acids and carbon monoxide, have toxic effects. These chemicals not only affect the oxygenation of the fetus and the mother’s organs, but it also affects oral health negatively. Especially the gums.

Your gums are already more sensitive to irritation because of pregnancy hormones. Smoking on top of it harms the gums even further, indirectly affecting the baby’s health. Not only does it harm your gums and your unborn baby, but it can also lead to premature births, stillbirths, and early or late neonatal deaths.

Studies show that when pregnant rats were given alcohol, their babies exhibited small teeth, delayed tooth rupture, and structural deterioration of the enamel. Alcohol directly affects the liver and oral health negatively. And that also affects the baby’s health in a bad way.

Toothache while pregnant

The things that your dental health is going through during pregnancy and their consequences can cause pain in your teeth. Such as vomiting, pregnancy gingivitis, dental plaque buildup, and other problems that were not fixed before the pregnancy. These problems weaken the tooth enamel. And a weakened enamel is an invitation for sensitivity, tooth erosion, and cavities. To avoid an achy breaky tooth, you should take extra precautions. Remember, your dental health can also affect your baby’s health, now or in the future.

If you are experiencing toothache during your pregnancy, consult your dentist. If it does not require immediate action, you can ask your dentist for pain relievers that are appropriate for pregnant women.

Is dental anesthesia safe during pregnancy?

Yes, local anesthetics, such as lidocaine and prilocaine, can be used safely for dental treatments during pregnancy, so most procedures can be performed. However, in the first trimester of your pregnancy, you should postpone non-urgent dental treatments as they can harm the baby in its organogenesis stage (the stage where the baby’s organs are being developed). If during this stage the baby is harmed through unnecessary dental treatments that can cause more harm than good, it may lead to incomplete miscarriage (the baby is no longer vital, but is still in the womb).

If your teeth are in a critical condition where avoiding treatment can cause more harm than any dental treatment, you and your dentist should take action immediately.

How should I protect my teeth during pregnancy?

To prevent your teeth breaking during pregnancy, you should keep following a regular dental hygiene routine as well as regular dentist visits. As mentioned above, pregnancy hormones can affect your gums and cause bacterial plaque buildup. And that makes your oral and dental health more vulnerable. So, if you are not pregnant yet but planning to be, make sure to visit your dentist beforehand for a checkup before pregnancy for any undetected periodontal diseases or teeth problems.

You should follow a few extra steps for your oral hygiene. You should brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. Because of your morning sickness, you should rinse your mouth with mouthwash or water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda to reduce the acid levels in your mouth and around your teeth. You can also use acid-neutralizing toothpaste for extra dental care.

Another remedy can be warm salty water. It also helps decrease the acid levels in your mouth and also helps relax your gums and their sensitivity.

What kind of supplements should I use to protect my teeth during pregnancy?

As we mentioned before, you are forming a human being in your body. That requires extra energy. And where do we get our energy? Food! But not all kinds of food. There is the good kind and the bad kind. We know some of the bad ones are tempting, but you should avoid them as much as possible during your pregnancy. You need nutrients and energy more than you need sugary foods and fast foods. 

Your daily calcium intake should be 1200-1500mg. You can meet that goal by consuming calcium-rich foods like dairy products and green vegetables. If you do not consume the required calcium, your baby will literally feed off your bones to grow their own. And that can cause the mother to go through bone mass deterioration. This does not mean that your baby is sucking the life out of you. It means that you are getting insufficient nutrition. You should not forget, your teeth are also bones and they need calcium. Insufficient calcium intake may lead to teeth breaking during pregnancy.

While paying attention to your calcium intake, you should try to avoid sugar. Especially when you’re snacking. We all know how sugar treats a tooth: not good. Eat healthy and sweet fruits instead! And don’t underestimate your prenatal vitamins. They are crucial for your pregnancy. You need all of the extra nutrients you cannot get through your diet.

Of course, you cannot forget protein in your balanced diet. You should eat meat, fish, and eggs. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, and if you are not experiencing any complications concerning your or your baby’s health, you can get the necessary nutrients, minerals, and vitamins with a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, you are going to need lots of help with getting the right amount of nutrients with these diets. It is recommended that you consult a specialist for a well-planned and healthy diet.

How often should I visit the dentist during pregnancy?

Your second trimester is the most comfortable stage for dental interventions. There are some procedures you can’t have done in your third trimester, such as root canal treatment. In your third trimester, sitting on a dental chair for too long can cause vena cava inferior syndrome. Your dentist will help you get comfortable on the chair, but since you will not be able to lay normally on the chair, most procedures can be hard or dangerous to perform.

References:

Yenen Z, Ataçağ T. Oral care in pregnancy. Journal of the Turkish German Gynecological Association. 2019;20(4):264-268. doi:10.4274/jtgga.galenos.2018.2018.0139

Culp DJ, Robinson B, Cash MN. Murine Salivary Amylase Protects Against Streptococcus mutans-Induced Caries. Frontiers in Physiology. 2021;12. doi:10.3389/fphys.2021.699104

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