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Article: Oral Care in Pregnancy

Oral Care in Pregnancy

Oral Care in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a very exciting and busy time! There are so many changes going on in your body and your mouth is no exception. As women, we have so many pains, aches and concerns when pregnant that it’s easy to neglect our oral health. 


The Pregnancy-Mouth Connection

You're not imagining it – your mouth really does feel different during pregnancy! Surging hormones, especially increased progesterone, make your gums more sensitive and prone to inflammation. This means plaque buildup, which would be irritating normally, can cause bleeding, swelling, and even pregnancy gingivitis.Taking extra care of your teeth and gums now isn't just about comfort – it protects your overall health and reduces your risk of complications.

Common Oral Issues During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, about half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis. This results in the gums bleeding, becoming red and swollen from inflammation and can be caused by changing hormones during pregnancy. We recommend seeing your hygienist every 3 months and using products that specifically target this issue of gum inflammation in your toothpaste and mouthwash. 

It's so important to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy while you're pregnant. The best way to prevent or deal with gum problems is to practise good oral hygiene and to try and to reduce inflammation in the gums. It is very important that you floss every day and use clinically proven active ingredients that address this issue. 

Another concern for some expectant mothers who may suffer from regular morning sickness is the erosion of tooth enamel. The increased amount of acid in the mouth can wreak havoc on your teeth and damage the enamel on the outside of the tooth. Unfortunately, the long term damage is not immediately seen as it erodes the enamel from the backs of the teeth first.

Morning sickness is tough, but there are ways to protect your teeth during those difficult moments:

  • Rinse & Repeat: Sip water throughout the day to help dilute stomach acid in your mouth.
  • The Power of Saliva: Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production, which naturally combats acid.
  • Patience When Brushing: Wait at least one hour after vomiting before brushing. This gives your tooth enamel a chance to re-strengthen after being temporarily softened by acid.

Heartburn can also contribute to this issue as it is caused by acid from the stomach coming back up which can erode enamel.  There are lots of things to reduce nausea and heartburn but simple things such as not brushing your teeth immediately after you’re sick and rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash can help to restore lost enamel. 

Diet and Decay

Pregnancy cravings can lead to frequent snacking, which sometimes means less healthy choices. Protect your teeth with these smart snack swaps:

  • Yoghurt Upgrade: Choose plain yogurt and add fresh berries for natural sweetness instead of sugary pre-flavoured yogurts.
  • Cheese, Please! A few cubes of cheese offer a satisfying, tooth-friendly snack.
  • Nuts for Nutrition: A handful of nuts provides healthy fats and a satisfying crunch.

Myth-Busting: Dental Care Safety

It's understandable to have concerns about dental care while pregnant.  However, routine cleanings, fillings, and even pain management are considered safe and essential. The risks of untreated infections or severe dental pain far outweigh any potential risks from standard procedures. Always tell your dentist you're pregnant so they can take extra precautions and discuss timing (some treatments are ideally postponed until after the first trimester).

Common Pregnancy Dental Myths

Myth

The Truth

"Dental work will harm my baby."

Routine cleanings and fillings pose no risk to your developing baby. Local anaesthetic used for procedures is safe when administered correctly.

"X-rays should be completely avoided."

When necessary, dental X-rays involve minimal radiation. With proper shielding, they are considered safe and essential for diagnosing problems that could worsen if left untreated.

"My bleeding gums are normal, I'll just wait it out."

While some gum sensitivity is common, bleeding gums could signal gingivitis or infection. Don't ignore it – seeing your dentist can prevent complications and bring relief.

 

Beyond Pregnancy:  Continued Care Matters

While some of the oral health challenges of pregnancy subside after delivery,  others might linger.  Plus, with the demands of a newborn, it's easy to neglect your own needs. Make time for regular dental checkups, even when exhausted!  Maintaining good oral health now sets the stage for easier dental care later when life gets even busier.

With a growing little person inside, your diet can change for a multitude of reasons. Increasing appetite or nausea can make you want to snack and eat a lot more regularly. I think when you are sick, you have to do what you have to do sometimes to get through the day!

Unfortunately, increased snacking can cause more decay but simple ways of avoiding decay are using clinically proven active ingredients.

This means using toothpastes and mouthwashes that have active ingredients such as fluoride and hydroxyapatite which help to remineralise decay. As dentists, we don’t recommend the use of natural toothpastes as they don’t contain clinically proven ingredients that reduce decay. 

As dentists, we get asked so many questions about looking after your oral care during pregnancy on our Q&A’s on Instagram so we put together a list of our top tips for you! 

Tips for Oral Care during Pregnancy: 

  1. Visit your hygienist for a deep clean and for advice when you discover that you’re pregnant. Make sure to see your dentist regularly throughout your pregnancy. 
  2. Use a sonic brush to brush your teeth so that you’re really getting a good clean and avoiding plaque build up. Let the brush do the work for you!!
  3. Brush your teeth at least twice daily for at least two minutes each time with clinically proven active ingredients. 
  4. Floss daily to help avoid food and plaque build up between the teeth and the gums 
  5. Use an Alcohol Free Mouthwash. Alcohol is not an ideal ingredient to rinse with every day as it is carcinogenic and also is very drying on the oral tissues. 
  6. Eat a balanced diet and avoid sugary snacks and acidic drinks. 
  7. If you’re suffering from morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water each time after vomiting to avoid acid damaging your teeth. You should also wait an hour after vomiting to brush your teeth as your teeth may be softened from the acid in your stomach. 
  8. Feel confident in your smile - you can continue to use our whitening toothpaste when pregnant. It contains fluoride which will help prevent tooth decay. However, we do not recommend using our whitening strips during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

All of our Spotlight Oral Care products are suitable for expecting or breastfeeding mothers (excluding our Whitening Strips).

Why not treat yourself or a loved one to one of our new exclusive Spotlight Oral Care Bundles?