Pregnancy and Oral Health

Pregnancy is a very special time when you need to take a little more care of yourself to get your baby’s life off to a good start, and to prepare for everything involved in caring for your infant. If you have enjoyed good dental health in the past, you should encounter few problems during pregnancy. However, pregnancy is accompanied by many changes in your body and some of these occur in your mouth. The most common oral problem in pregnancy is changes in the gums, as they react more aggressively to dental plaque; a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. This often starts at about 8 weeks, peaks in the 8th month, and then ends shortly after delivery. Good oral hygiene throughout the pregnancy is the best way to combat pregnancy gingivitis.
 

Ask

About how frequently you should have check-ups during and after your pregnancy, and if you need to pay any special attention to your oral hygiene and diet


If your diet changes a lot to include frequent consumption of sugary or acidic foods and beverages (including fresh fruits), ask if you are at risk of developing dental decay or acid erosion

 

Tell

Your dentist about your medical care and your due date

Your obstetrician about any dental care

 

Do

Maintain a good oral hygiene technique to make sure your gums stay healthy, and eat a healthy diet avoiding frequent snacking between meals on sugary or acidic foods and drinks

 

Remember

To schedule a check-up with your dentist and dental hygienist early in your pregnancy if you did not have a check-up when planning the pregnancy.

 

 

Click on a question for more Information

I am planning on becoming pregnant—what should I know about my oral health at this time?

Now is a good time to visit your dentist and dental hygienist to make sure that dental problems will not interfere in any way with your pregnancy. Tell them of your plans and ask for any specific advice they may be able to provide for your individual circumstances, particularly gum health and oral hygiene.


If you have a form of gum disease known as periodontitis, this may affect your pregnancy. Research has shown that untreated periodontitis may be associated with a risk of having a pre-term baby. Researchers are still investigating this association and cannot confirm any direct cause.


Planning your pregnancy is a good opportunity to make sure your mouth as well as the rest of your body is in good health. Your dentist and dental hygienist can provide treatment to control any gum disease and give advice for how to prevent its recurrence. Good oral hygiene performed with the correct technique and cleaning aids for your individual circumstances is essential.



Figure: Periodontitis may affect your pregnancy. While planning your pregnancy, get a dental check-up.

How should I care for my oral health during my pregnancy?

Schedule a dental check-up as soon as possible and ask your dentist and dental hygienist for any specific advice they have to offer for your specific situation. Dental care is safe during pregnancy. Your dental team will work to schedule the optimal time for any treatment needed, contacting your obstetrician if appropriate.


Changing hormone levels may lead to redness and puffiness in the gums as a result of how your gums now react to dental plaque. Pregnancy gingivitis is quite common and can be controlled by good plaque removal. Strive to have the best oral hygiene. Use good quality toothbrushes that are designed to reach under the gum line and other hard to reach areas. Always use a fluoride toothpaste and brush at least twice a day. Cleaning between the teeth, where regular toothbrushes do not reach, is essential—use floss or specially designed interdental brushes to clean between all your teeth at least once a day. Ask your dental hygienist for any specific advice, and if you could also benefit from an anti-plaque rinse.


Keep a well-balanced diet low in added sugars, and try to avoid lots of snacks between meals. Changes to your diet will no doubt occur from time to time throughout your pregnancy. If you find yourself eating and drinking a lot of sugary or acidic foods and beverages, consult your dentist as these increase your risk of cavities and acid-erosion. A fluoride rinse may be recommended in addition to your regular oral hygiene routine.


If you have morning sickness and vomit frequently, the acid can damage your teeth. To keep this to a minimum, avoid brushing for at least an hour after vomiting as the acid softens the enamel surface of the teeth making them susceptible to wear from abrasives in the toothpaste. Rinsing with a solution of a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water will help neutralize the acid and freshen your mouth.



Figure: The features of tooth erosion are a lack of surface luster, yellowing, and teeth gradually becoming smaller as the enamel is dissolved away.

 

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