Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common condition experienced by many women during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a remarkable journey filled with various physiological changes, including fluctuations in hormone levels. Alongside these hormonal shifts, many expectant mothers may experience the discomfort of a dry mouth.
Based on clinical research and studies, we aim to shed light on this common oral health concern. Below delves into dry mouth cause and potential implications during pregnancy and provides practical tips for managing this condition.
Hormonal Changes and Gingivitis
Research by the University of Maryland School of Dentistry has shown that hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of gingivitis(1). Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone can lead to exaggerated immune responses to dental plaque, causing gum inflammation and potentially progressing into gum disease. This hormonal imbalance can lead to an exaggerated response to plaque bacteria, resulting in red, swollen, and tender gums. Pregnant women may also experience gum bleeding during brushing or flossing. Pregnant women need to maintain excellent oral hygiene and visit their dentist regularly to prevent and manage gingivitis during pregnancy. Regular dental cleanings and diligent oral hygiene practices are crucial to manage and prevent gingivitis during pregnancy.
A study by the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry explores the occurrence of pregnancy tumours in expectant mothers (2). Pregnancy tumours, benign growths that commonly develop on the gums during pregnancy, are thought to be influenced by hormonal imbalances. These growths can cause discomfort and may require professional dental intervention. Close monitoring by a dental professional is recommended to ensure appropriate management of pregnancy tumours.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can impact the composition and structure of tooth enamel, potentially increasing the risk of dental caries and enamel erosion. Research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine highlights the association between hormonal changes and dental caries during pregnancy(3). Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone can affect the oral environment, leading to changes in saliva composition and pH balance. These changes can promote the growth of bacteria and make the teeth more susceptible to decay. Additionally, pregnancy cravings and dietary changes may increase the consumption of sugary or acidic foods, further contributing to tooth decay. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups, is crucial during pregnancy to prevent and manage dental caries. Maintaining a well-balanced diet, practising good oral hygiene, and attending regular dental check-ups are essential to minimize the risk of tooth decay and enamel erosion.
Morning Sickness and Dental Health
The prevalence of morning sickness during pregnancy can affect oral health. A recent study examined the impact of morning sickness on dental health(4). The frequent exposure of tooth enamel to stomach acid can lead to enamel erosion and an increased risk of dental caries. Dentists may provide specific recommendations on preventive measures and suitable oral care products to protect against acid erosion caused by morning sickness.
The influence of hormones on oral health during pregnancy is undeniable. Expectant mothers can safeguard their oral health by understanding the potential effects of hormonal fluctuations and implementing appropriate oral care practices. Regular dental check-ups, diligent oral hygiene, and open communication with dental professionals are essential to maintaining optimal oral health during this transformative period.
-  University of Maryland School of Dentistry
-  University of North Carolina School of Dentistry
-  University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
-  Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada