Fact Checked

Toothache During Pregnancy: Causes and Treatment

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

November 09, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Greg Grillo, DDS

Women are exposed to many new sensations throughout their pregnancy, some of which can be unpleasant and even painful. Aside from the most apparent side effects, such as morning sickness, inflammation, and hormonal changes, some pregnant women endure excruciating tooth pain. Even though the experience is relatively frequent, there is no reason to panic.

In this post, we will explain what you can do if you have tooth pain during pregnancy, as well as some of our recommendations for what to use for toothache during pregnancy to ensure the safety of both you and your baby while managing your dental problems.

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Toothaches and tooth decay during pregnancy

Your hormones rise while your baby develops in the pregnancy, which can then cause tooth pain and other worrying dental symptoms such as:

Plaque buildup

Your body's natural reaction to battling plaque changes throughout pregnancy, primarily due to hormonal changes. Plaque can continue to collect if left untreated, eventually hardening into tartar and increasing your risk of tooth decay and an issue called pregnancy gingivitis.

Morning sickness

Many women experience morning sickness, stomach acid reflux, and vomiting throughout their first trimester of pregnancy. Brushing with an acid-neutralizing toothpaste to protect tooth enamel is essential for properly and safely removing stomach acids that can lead to tooth decay. Your enamel begins to deteriorate, opening the door to further tooth discomfort during pregnancy leading to tooth sensitivity, gum disease, swollen gums, cavities, and other oral issues.

Gum disease

Due to hormonal changes, most women are more prone to pregnancy gingivitis, leaving gums painful, fragile, and open to bleeding gums and more serious concerns later on.

Pregnancy "Tumors" on the gums

A raw-looking swelling of gum tissue arises between the teeth during the middle trimester. These so-called benign pregnancy "tumors" bleed readily, cause sore gums, and may be caused by plaque accumulation.

Consult your dental professional if you believe you have developed one of these tumors, But don't worry: they usually go away after improved oral health treatment and more frequent cleanings by a dental hygienist until the baby is delivered.

Loose teeth

This is another uncommon pregnancy symptom. Hormones altering the ligaments that keep your teeth in the bone can cause loose teeth even in the absence of gum disease. If you observe any new loose teeth, contact your dentist right away.

How to maintain oral health during pregnancy

Most of the time, even for expecting mothers, it is simpler to avoid oral issues. Examine these essential solutions for preventing tooth pain during pregnancy:

  • Limit sugary foods and consume a healthy diet, such as nuts,  fruits, green leafy vegetables, dairy products, and milk. Regularly consume foods high in calcium, vitamin D3, iron, and other critical elements, as pregnant women need extra nutrients.
  • Maintain a consistent oral hygiene program. Brush your teeth twice daily using fluoride toothpaste, baking soda, and suitable brushing methods with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Flossing is also a great approach to eliminating junk from the teeth and gums.
  • You should avoid soft drinks and sugary foods. However, if you drink sugary drinks, you can use straws to keep your teeth from coming into direct contact with the soda.
  • Rinse your mouth with a warm saltwater rinse if you have a dental problem. It will provide some pain and relief.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Furthermore, fluoride in tap water strengthens teeth and maintains oral health.
  • Never use over-the-counter (OTC) medication by yourself when pregnant. Before taking any medicines while pregnant, speak to your health professional first.

Home dental treatment for prenatal tooth pain

Sometimes your dentist may choose to postpone a dental procedure until the next trimester. In that case, there are proper precautions and home remedies you may take at home to ease sensitive gums and teeth pain in the interim while waiting for dental work. Begin by identifying foods and beverages that aggravate sensitivity or discomfort.

Some women have increased sensitivity when they drink hot beverages or eat hot foods; others experience increased sensitivity when they consume cold drinks or foods. Alcohol-containing mouthwashes may potentially aggravate your discomfort.

Rinsing your mouth with warm, salty water is often the best treatment and may help reduce toothache, swelling, and irritation. To alleviate inflammation, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek near the affected tooth.

Ask your doctor about the safety of using an over-the-counter tooth antiseptic containing benzocaine or pain medications such as acetaminophen.

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Other at-home dental treatments include:

Aloe Vera: Because of its antibacterial and antifungal qualities, the plant can help prevent bacterial development and minimize gum swelling during pregnancy.

Milk: Milk contains calcium and vitamin K, which are essential for gum health. Drinking warm milk a couple of times a day will help minimize gum bleeding and inflammation. Still, it would be best to clean your teeth twice daily since milk promotes plaque development.

Pomegranate: As a preventative strategy, pomegranate juice can aid in treating plaque accumulation and bacterial infections. But the acidity of these and other juices can weaken teeth over extended periods.

Garlic: Applying garlic directly to the location causing your toothache will reduce discomfort dramatically. Garlic is a natural antibiotic since it includes allicin, killing germs in afflicted regions without causing adverse effects.

Clove: Clove, a natural antibacterial, can be administered directly to the damaged tooth for immediate relief.

Are dental visits during pregnancy safe?

Dentists and obstetricians recommend that women schedule most dental procedures and work before getting pregnant. This allows the dentist to perform a complete examination and cleaning and cure any existing tooth problems, giving you one less thing to worry about during your pregnancy.

However, if you are already pregnant, you cannot miss your routine checkup and regular dental cleanings. The American Dental Association (ADA) agrees that most dental procedures, X-rays (with sufficient safeguards), and the use of local anesthetics are safe during pregnancy. However, if you want dental care, it is advisable to postpone it until your second trimester if feasible.

Just keep in mind that you must notify your dental professionals:

  • As soon as you know - or believe - that you are pregnant.
  • How far along in your pregnancy are you?
  • If you are using any prescription or OTC drugs.
  • If your pregnancy is deemed high-risk.

Of course, if you have a toothache or gum problem throughout your pregnancy, don't put treatment off till after giving birth. At the first symptom of a dental issue, contact your dental professional.

What are options for treating tooth pain when pregnant?

Dental problems, whether toothache, painful gums, or other sores, do not have to be a significant problem.

First, schedule dental appointments to be certain you have a problem.

Don't suffer in silence if you have persistent dental issues. Consult your dentist as soon as possible, and don't neglect to tell them that you're pregnant.

X-rays, some dental treatments, and local anesthesia are safe to use while pregnant. However, depending on your stage of pregnancy, your dentist may advise you to postpone some procedures until at least the middle trimester for overall health concerns.

This may occur if you require a root canal or filling, both of which require an anesthetic — and may raise your chance of complications in the beginning trimester.

However, because your baby's essential organs develop during the middle trimester, delaying some treatments reduces the chance of adverse effects, according to peer-reviewed studies.

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Maintain your cleaning schedule

Routine cleanings are not harmful to your infant, so you can keep scheduling them as usual. Having your teeth cleaned can alleviate sensitivity.

Cleaning can also be used to treat gingivitis. Because of an increased risk of gum infection during pregnancy, your dentist might prescribe more regular cleanings — possibly every three months rather than every six months.

As needed, seek more specialized therapy.

Dental extraction during the second trimester might relieve discomfort and sensitivity if you get periodontal disease while pregnant and your dentist cannot rescue a loose tooth.

You can consult your dentist about tooth replacement alternatives if you face tooth loss, such as a dental bridge or implant, which are safe after the middle trimester.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use for severe tooth pain while pregnant?

Check with your doctor before taking any medications, but a cold compress and saltwater rinse can often be helpful.

Can I go to the ER for tooth pain while pregnant?

You can. However, it may be best to call your dentist to try to be seen. If your dentist is unavailable, visiting the emergency room can be an option. Be sure to explain to them you are pregnant before getting any treatment.

How can I sleep with a toothache while pregnant?

Sleep with your head raised on a thick pillow or a stack of pillows. Elevation can assist reduce blood flow into the head and mouth from causing pressure. Elevating your head can so assist in relieving discomfort, enhancing circulation, and minimizing edema.

Is it possible for a dental infection to harm your unborn child?

A deep cavity that develops into an abscess can have an impact not only on your health but also on the health of your child, especially if the pain is severe enough to create substantial stress. Furthermore, the inflammation and subsequent fever might stress the developing embryo.


Make your dental health a priority for a safe pregnancy and your baby’s health. Consult your dentist immediately before or after becoming pregnant or if you experience any oral problems throughout your pregnancy.

You can avoid toothaches and other dental problems by improving your oral hygiene. Discuss safe pain medications and procedures with your prenatal doctor. And soon, you'll be able to shower your infant with joyful, healthy grins.