Oral health in pregnancy

Navigating your oral health in pregnancy

People say pregnancy is the most memorable time in a woman's life, and every woman needs special care. Changes in hormone levels during this phase can impact oral health and increase your gingiva susceptibility to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding.



Under such circumstances, only your dentist can assist you. Hormone changes and the body’s need for more nutrients can both result in oral health issues. So, taking care of your teeth and consulting a dentist to avoid major complications is important.

So, here are some tips for managing dental health while pregnant.

Oral health before pregnancy

Your oral health is vital throughout your life. So, taking care of your teeth and gums is essential so you do not face any complications.

The ideal routine for healthy oral health is brushing your teeth along the gum line twice daily with a small, soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to follow this with a daily flossing and mouth washing regime.

Lastly, visiting your dentist before you plan your baby is a good idea. Proper dental treatment can help keep your teeth and gums healthy and reduce the risk of complications.

Oral health in pregnancy

Improper dental health can significantly impact your overall health, considerably influencing your baby’s health. Therefore, you must maintain good dental hygiene throughout your pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, inform your dentist so you can receive personalized treatment based on your condition. Moreover, some medications, like tetracycline antibiotics, can also affect your baby’s developing teeth, even before birth. You may also ask your dentist for a thorough gum check and suggestions for keeping your gum healthy.

Usually, most dental treatments are marked safe by dentists. Nevertheless, most dentists ask their patient to avoid dental x-rays while expecting a baby. Even if you need an x-ray during your treatment, your dentist will ensure all precautionary steps before it.

Are Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy connected?

According to a report by the World Health Organization, the most frequent change produced in the oral cavity during pregnancy is gingivitis, with a 60%–75% prevalence. Gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease, occurs when the gums become inflamed and distended due to inflammation. The condition may worsen due to fluctuating hormone levels if you are pregnant.

Without proper treatment for gingivitis, the alveolar bone that supports the teeth can deteriorate, and the gums can become contaminated. Teeth with inadequate bone support may ultimately become unstable and require extraction.

Additionally, based on a report published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), periodontitis has been linked to adverse outcomes like preterm birth and low birth weight. However, it is not yet completely understood how periodontitis may contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Pregnancy and dental cavities

Changes in behaviors, such as dietary patterns, may also put pregnant women at risk for tooth decay. Pregnant women with cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths might transmit these bacteria to their children.

Early exposure to these bacteria and other carbohydrates, such as frequent nibbling or taking a bottle to bed, can result in early childhood cavities and extensive dental care.

One in four women of reproductive age has untreated cavities. Children of mothers with high rates of untreated cavities or tooth loss are more than three times as likely to develop cavities.

Steps to ensure good oral health while expecting a baby

Now that you know all the potential risks you might encounter during your pregnancy, it is time to dive deeper into determining the steps to ensure good oral health.

  1. Prioritize good oral hygiene.

    Maintaining good oral hygiene is always important, but it’s even more critical when you are pregnant. Hormonal changes can increase the risk of gingivitis and infections in the dental pulp. To keep your gums healthy, do not forget to brush your teeth twice and floss daily. Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste to maintain optimal oral health. Lastly, use a mouth freshener after brushing your teeth to add that hint of freshness.

  2. Watch your diet

    A healthy diet is vital, especially if you are pregnant. Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial not just for your baby’s growth but also for your dental health. Eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

    Focus on foods high in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Avoid sugary and acidic foods, as they can increase the risk of tooth decay.


  3. Visit your dentist regularly

    If you are pregnant, regular dental checkups are essential to identify and treat oral health issues before they become more severe. So, you need to follow routine dental care, but it’s best to inform your dentist that you’re pregnant. Dentists usually modify the treatment options for their patients, such as X-rays or certain medications, as they may directly affect your health.

  4. Address any existing oral health problems.

    If you have any oral health problems, such as cavities or gum disease, you must inform your dentist about your condition. These issues can worsen in pregnancy and harm your developing baby.

  5. Consider dental treatments

    If you need dental treatment that can wait until after pregnancy, it may be best to postpone it. However, seeking immediate dental care is essential for a dental emergency or severe oral health issues like gum disease or infection. Delaying treatment can harm both you and your developing baby.

Pregnancy food cravings and Oral health concerns

Women know that food cravings can come in all shapes and sizes! Sometimes these cravings are intense and can be challenging to resist. It’s not uncommon for you to crave sugary, salty, or fatty foods. While it’s essential to indulge in your cravings occasionally, it’s important to remember that what you eat throughout pregnancy can impact your dental health and your baby’s overall health.

When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Eating a carbohydrate diet can also increase the risk of dental health conditions.

Tips for maintaining good oral health in pregnancy

Therefore, to maintain good oral health during pregnancy, you must limit the intake of sugary and starchy foods.

Instead, try to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for the health of your teeth and gums. Eating a balanced diet with lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats can help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Another critical step in maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help flush bacteria and food particles from your mouth, preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar. It’s also important to avoid sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juice, which can be high in sugar and acids that can damage your teeth.

Finally, practice good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash. These habits can help remove plaque and prevent the buildup of bacteria in your mouth, reducing the risk of dental problems during pregnancy.

See your dentist immediately if you experience pain or discomfort in your teeth or gums. By taking these steps, you can ensure a healthy pregnancy period.

Oral health maintenance during morning sickness

Another symptom that most pregnant women may experience during their pregnancy is morning sickness. Morning sickness is a phenomenon that generally happens during the time of 1st to 2nd trimester. On rare occasions, cases have been seen where it is carried on for the entire duration of pregnancy.

Albeit, morning sickness can be a challenging symptom to manage during pregnancy. Here are some action-oriented steps that can help protect your dental health:

  1. Rinse your mouth with water or fluoride mouthwash after vomiting.

    When you vomit, stomach acid can be regurgitated into your mouth and cause damage to your tooth enamel. Hence, it’s important to rinse your mouth with water or fluoride mouthwash immediately after vomiting, which helps neutralize the acid, thus preventing it from eroding your tooth enamel.

  2. Wait for 30 minutes before brushing your teeth

    Brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting can cause further damage as the bristles of your toothbrush can push the acid deeper into your tooth enamel. It’s essential to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after vomiting. This will give your saliva enough time to neutralize the acid and reduce the risk of damage to your tooth enamel.

  3. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush

    When you brush your teeth, use a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will help prevent further damage to your tooth enamel and gums, which may be more sensitive during pregnancy.

  4. Consider using fluoride toothpaste.

    Fluoride is a mineral that can help strengthen your enamel and protect your teeth from decay. If you are experiencing morning sickness, consider using fluoride toothpaste to help improve your teeth and protect them from acid erosion. It would help to keep in touch with your doctor at every level. Also, maintain an overall hydration level, diet, and dental routine.


Before concluding, it is vital to address that maintaining good oral health before, during, and after pregnancy is essential for you and your developing baby. You must prioritize oral hygiene, watch your diet, brush your teeth twice daily, and use fluoride-based toothpaste. Last but most importantly, choose a soft-bristled brush to ensure you do not hurt your gums.

Dr. Michael

Dr. Michael

MSc Implantology, Bonn University, Germany