What Causes Bad Breath During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy comes with its own set of signs and symptoms as well as changes, pleasant or unpleasant. One of these is bad breath.


Pregnancy-induced bad breath

The technical term for ‘bad breath’, also known as ‘oral malodour’, is halitosis which is defined as an unpleasant smell given out in an exhaled breath. It has many causes, is not necessarily linked with a disease itself (find more in this review paper), and it might even be linked with pregnancy.

What causes halitosis in pregnant women?

A woman’s entire body feels the drastic changes that occur when a foetus is growing inside of her. These transitions are mediated by hormone fluctuations whose influence is not limited to the reproductive system. Rather, the oral cavity is also strongly affected by the hormones. In a paper available in the Australasian Medical Journal published in 2013, the authors write that pregnant women have “special oral health needs”.

The activity of the hormones might worsen the effects that bacterial plaque and tartar have on tissues. So, while the hormones turn the womb into the perfect shelter for a baby to be nourished and protected, they also cause the mouth to become fertile ground for plaque which contains bacteria that generate volatile sulphur compounds that are responsible for the bad breath.

Furthermore, other symptoms linked to pregnancy like nausea and vomiting lead to a building-up of bacteria on the surfaces of the teeth.

Another factor that exacerbates the problem is dehydration: the saliva levels are, in turn, affected, leaving a dry mouth. This can further encourage the bacteria to multiply.

Another problem is calcium deficiency. The baby might drain the mother’s own calcium, thereby leading to a decrease in the nutrient in her body, and low calcium conditions are known to cause bad breath.

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