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Tips for protecting oral health during pregnancy

Last Modified: July 02, 2024

Women & Children

pregnant woman receiving dental treatment

Pregnancy is an exciting and transformative time that brings unique challenges and changes to your body. With so much focus on your baby's growth and arrival, one area of self-care you may overlook is your dental health. Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for both you and your baby. Here, we'll discuss the necessity of proper dental care during pregnancy and helpful tips to maintain a healthy smile.

The importance of dental care during pregnancy

With the many changes experienced during pregnancy comes an increased risk of developing certain conditions that can impact your and your baby's health. This also includes both of your teeth and gums, as your baby will begin developing teeth in the womb around week 6.

The National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine highlights the correlation between changing hormone levels in pregnancy and gum problems. Current research indicates that poor oral health during pregnancy, in addition to dental complications, can further heighten the risk of premature delivery, low birth weight babies and pre-eclampsia. However, you can lessen the risk of these difficulties by maintaining proper dental care throughout pregnancy.

Changes in your mouth during pregnancy

Pregnancy triggers many changes in your body, and your mouth is no exception. Some fluctuations in your mouth during pregnancy are normal and should disappear after your baby is born.

Increased blood flow to the mucous membranes of the mouth and gums may cause bleeding in your gums, especially when brushing your teeth. Your gums may also be more swollen and feel more tender than usual. Using a toothbrush with softer bristles can help reduce this discomfort.

Although it may seem alarming, it's not unusual for your teeth to feel slightly loose. This will typically resolve after pregnancy. Additionally, stomach acid can weaken your teeth. Women who experience morning sickness or reflux may be more prone to developing sensitive teeth or cavities.

Caring for your teeth during pregnancy

Despite these challenges, maintaining a regular brushing routine is essential. Here are some tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy:

  • Continue brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once daily. Use toothpaste with fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.

  • If string floss is too painful, opting for a water flosser may provide a gentler experience.

  • If you gag when brushing, try using a toothbrush with a smaller head or toothpaste that doesn't foam when you brush.

  • Focus on a nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals. While pregnancy cravings for sugary snacks are common, try to limit your intake to prevent cavities.

  • If you have reflux or morning sickness, try rinsing with a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water to neutralize stomach acid before brushing. Wait at least 20 minutes after rinsing before brushing.

  • Do not smoke when you are pregnant or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about safe smoking cessation options.

Furthermore, regular visits to your dentist during pregnancy are essential in preventing the development and exacerbation of oral health issues. Numerous myths regarding dental treatment and pregnancy have raised concern over the safety of related procedures, causing many women to forego oral care. The American Dental Association (ADA) assures that preventive, diagnostic and restorative dental treatment is safe throughout pregnancy. Your dentist is there to ensure your welfare and comfort throughout your procedure, so be sure to inform them of your pregnancy.

Final thoughts

Caring for your teeth and gums while pregnant is more than maintaining a bright smile. The habits you develop during this period can significantly impact your well-being and your baby's future dental hygiene.

Make your overall health during your pregnancy a priority. Learn more about Parkview's obstetricians, Family Birthing Centers and Certified Nurse Midwife Program or connect with our team of nurse navigators to get connected to the resources you need to support your pregnancy and postpartum journey.











Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.

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