Pregnancy is an incredible experience that involves a lot of changes to your body and your health. The heightened hormones required to help your little one grow can affect many aspects of your health — including your teeth! You also need to be careful which dental treatments you use during pregnancy, making the whole experience of prenatal dental care a bit tricky to navigate!
If you’re expecting, we’ll keep you smiling. Here is everything you need to know about pregnancy and oral health!
Why is Dental Care During Pregnancy Important?
Your teeth and gums can be extra sensitive during and after pregnancy. You may have already noticed some parts of your body experiencing swelling, like your hands and feet, but did you know your gums can swell too? Swollen gums can turn into pregnancy gingivitis (inflamed and bleeding gums) if not managed with care.
In addition to pregnancy gingivitis, pregnant women are at an increased risk of periodontal disease—an infection that damages the tissues that hold your teeth in place—as plaque can build up at a faster rate. Both periodontal disease and gingivitis have been connected with dangerous pregnancy conditions like pre-eclampsia and preterm labor. This means that your oral health can impact your baby’s wellbeing long before they get those first baby teeth!
Morning Sickness and Dental Health
One pregnancy symptom in particular can cause significant damage to tooth enamel, and that’s morning sickness. The frequent acidity passing through your mouth when experiencing bouts of morning sickness can eat through enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay. So proper dental hygiene during this stage of pregnancy is vital to your dental health.
What Are Safe Dental Treatments During Pregnancy?
Many dental treatments and procedures are perfectly safe during pregnancy. You can continue using a fluoride toothpaste and getting your regular cleanings from the dentist, but let them know that you’re expecting so they can skip any dental treatments that should wait until after delivery. If you’re pregnant and due for any dental treatments, hold off on the following until after birth:
If you’re worried about the risks of any dental treatment while pregnant, just talk to your dentist about it! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have so you can make an informed decision about your dental care!
Oral Hygiene Tips for Expectant Mothers
Because oral hygiene is so important during pregnancy, here are five tips to help you form a good dental care routine throughout your pregnancy and beyond:
1. Brush Twice Daily
As always, continue brushing twice a day during your pregnancy using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Give your teeth a solid brushing from all angles for about two minutes, and be sure to gently clean along your gums to reduce the risk of gingivitis. Finish off with brushing your tongue to reduce bacteria in your mouth and get rid of bad breath!
For added protection, use an alcohol-free mouthwash per your dentist’s recommendation. Mouthwash is also a great alternative for women who experience an overactive gag reflex that makes brushing difficult during the first trimester.
2. Don’t Forget to Floss!
Flossing is important to reduce plaque buildup and catch any lingering food particles that may lead to tooth decay. Less than half of Americans floss daily, so we know this isn’t necessarily common practice for you right now—but it’s important! If you struggle to manage traditional string floss, plenty of easier flossing tools exist, such as floss picks or a Waterpik.
3. Clean Your Mouth After Morning Sickness
While cleaning your mouth after a bout of morning sickness is essential to clear out the acid, brushing too much can strip away your enamel. If you need to brush to feel clean, wait at least an hour before doing so. In the meantime, here are some other options for keeping your mouth acid-free after morning sickness:
- Rinse with water
- Rinse with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a cup of warm water
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash (check label for pregnancy safety or ask your dentist)
- Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva production that will help rinse acid from your mouth
- Drink milk or eat hard cheese to neutralize the acid
4. Be Mindful of Cravings
Pregnancy cravings may dictate some of what you eat. But frequent sugary snacking isn’t great for your teeth and may lead to decay. When selecting your snacks, try to avoid highly processed sugars so what goes into your mouth doesn’t harm your hyper-sensitive teeth and gums.
5. Make Extra Visits to the Dentist
Many dental insurances will cover an additional visit for prenatal dental care because it’s so important to you and your baby’s health, so take advantage of that and book an appointment! We recommend scheduling this visit during your second trimester when the morning sickness should be over but you won’t have discomfort lying on your back for extended periods of time.
During your visit, your dentist can provide plenty of prenatal dental care tips, answer any questions you still have, and advise you on any areas that require extra attention. They will also likely recommend you come back in within a few months of giving birth, as cavities are extremely common postpartum. Besides, we want to meet your new little one!
Be Proactive with Your Pregnancy and Oral Health!
Your oral health requires just as much attention and care as the rest of your body needs during pregnancy, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or dental concerns! Book an appointment with us to ensure you receive the best possible dental care during pregnancy.