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Is Having Tooth Pain a Sign of Early Pregnancy?

Updated: Oct 24

A toothache is NOT a reliable indicator as a sign of early pregnancy because dental pain can occur regardless of your pregnancy status.


Broken filling that may be painful
Broken filling that may be painful

Rather than following hearsay on the internet, there are actual reliable early indicators which we will explain.


Can tooth pain be a sign of pregnancy?

Pain and sensitivity in your teeth can potentially be a sign of pregnancy due to the elevated hormones during gestation. Although it wouldn't be an early indicator.


Most notably, pregnancy can significantly influence your gum health. The elevated levels of hormones during pregnancy can drastically alter the microbiome of your mouth which leads to periodontal changes.


Effects of elevated pregnancy hormones:

  • Altered balance of good and bad bacteria in your mouth.

  • Increased gum bleeding.

  • Immune system overreaction to plaque and tartar.


There is a gum condition which occurs specifically during gestation called pregnancy induced gingivitis. It is a form of gingivitis but it only occurs while you're pregnant.


Pregnancy induced gingivitis signs & symptoms:

  • Loss of surface keratin.

  • Hydropic alteration of the stratum spinosum.

  • Hyperplasia of the stratum germinativum.

  • Inflammatory changes of the lamina propria.

In layman's terms, your gums undergo morphological changes due to elevated levels of hormones while you're carrying a baby.


Pregnancy induced gingivitis

We believe that one of the best ways to describe it is that your body overreacts to the plaque and tartar build up due to increased levels of hormones.


You could be maintaining the same oral hygiene routine and normally your gums do not become inflamed from this. However since you're pregnant, the hormones may cause your body to overreact to the plaque that is in your mouth. That will cause the gums to swell up and become inflamed even though you're brushing and flossing the same way.


If you were not pregnant, that same level of plaque would not have caused any problems at all. However due to the elevation of the hormones, it becomes a completely different situation.


In fact, your body can have such an exaggerated response to the plaque that you can develop what is called a pregnancy tumor. The image below is an example of what it may look like.


Pregnancy tumor
Pregnancy tumor

As you may have imagined, having a gum condition like the above can be quite painful. Therefore we would have to say that tooth nerve pain can indeed be a sign of pregnancy since pregnancy gingivitis and tumors are the result of being pregnant.


It's not a reliable sign of EARLY pregnancy

A toothache can be a sign of pregnancy but it is not an EARLY sign of pregnancy. Based on all of the research articles presented above, the effects or conditions which develop are as a result of an elevation of hormones.


Why tooth pain is not an early sign of pregnancy:

  • The hormones don't get elevated immediately because it takes time for them to build up to a sufficient concentration to become symptomatic.

  • In other words, the gingivitis and tumors from being pregnant usually don't start showing itself until months into gestation such as the second or third trimester.


Usually by the time hormones have reached a sufficient level, most women already know that they're pregnant. They don't need to rely on having a toothache as an early sign of being pregnant.


In summary, any type of tooth pain or dental pain can be considered a mid-late sign of pregnancy rather than an early one. This also includes any temporomandibular joint symptoms.


Valid signs of early pregnancy

According to the NHS, the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Alternatively you may have a much lighter period with only some spots. They say that not everyone may even notice this.


Early signs of pregnancy as per NHS:

  • Morning sickness. Around the 4-6 week mark, you may start feeling nauseous in the morning and feel like vomiting.

  • Feeling tired. The hormonal changes can make you tired and emotional especially in the first 12 weeks.

  • Sore breasts. The breasts may enlarge in size and even feel tingly.

  • Frequent urination. Feeling the need to pee more such as at nighttime.

  • Altered taste. You may lose interest in foods that you use to like.

  • Sensitive smell. Heightened sense of smell.

  • Food cravings. You may start wanting certain foods, some of which you've never had before.

These are all common signs but just to reiterate, the most reliable early sign is still a missed period.



Unfortunately, the sign of having a toothache was not mentioned even once in the video by all of the doctors. The reason is like we said, it is not an early sign but a mid-late sign!


Verdict

A toothache is not an early sign of pregnancy but it can be a result of it.


The elevated hormones during the process may lead to gum issues such as gingivitis and pregnancy tumors. However, the time it takes for those symptoms to appear is typically much later during pregnancy such as the second or third trimester.


Therefore, we would have to say that tooth pain is NOT an early sign and definitely not one of the first signs of pregnancy. It is more of a mid to late sign of being pregnant but by that time, most women already know that they are with a child.


Ultimately, a toothache is not a very useful indicator of determining if you're pregnant or not.

  • If you were having a toothache you should probably schedule an appointment with your dentist and NOT your OBGYN.

  • If you go to your dentist, they would only be able to tell you if you have any problems with your teeth. They wouldn't be able to tell you if you were pregnant or not.

You would be better off doing an at home pregnancy test or go visit your OBGYN if you did think you were pregnant. They would be able to help you better than your dentist ever could!


Last but not least, rather than using a toothache as a sign, the most reliable indicator is actually a missed period. If you're late or extremely late on your period, you should be very suspicious. Nonetheless, if you are having tooth pain, it is advisable to see your dentist for a check up to have it addressed.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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