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Oral health and pregnancy

Keeping teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy

A healthy mouth during pregnancy is important for both mums and babies. Pregnancy hormones can make gums more sensitive to dental plaque. Severe gum disease during pregnancy can affect both mothers’ and babies’ health.

Gum disease during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight. It is important to have healthy teeth and gums if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Dental treatment is safe during pregnancy. Remember to tell your dental practitioner that you are pregnant.

Take care of your oral health during pregnancy

  • Brush twice a day with a small, soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use floss or another product to clean between the teeth and down to the gumline daily
  • Try using an extra-soft toothbrush if gums are sensitive. Gently brush the gumline using small circles.
  • Gums can bleed more during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. If gums bleed, keep gently cleaning them. Plaque build-up along the gums will make bleeding worse.
  • Health conditions, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of gum problems during pregnancy. You should discuss this with your dental practitioner.
  • Smoking causes gum disease. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your oral health and the health of your baby.
  • Make an appointment for a dental check-up if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Have any dental problems (decay and gum disease) treated before the baby is born.

Nausea, vomiting and oral health

Frequent vomiting can weaken teeth and make them more at risk of decay and erosion (wearing away).

The following tips can help protect your teeth:

  • Don’t brush the teeth straight after vomiting as this can speed up tooth erosion.
  • Do one of the following to help neutralize acids after vomiting:
    • Rinse the mouth with fluoride mouth rinse
    • Rinse the mouth with water and smear a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on the teeth
    • Chew sugar free gum
  • Do keep brushing the teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
  • If nauseous, try healthy plain foods like plain crackers, dry toast or cereal.
  • Dairy-based snacks (e.g. cheese or milk) can help to neutralise acids and protect against decay.
  • Avoid frequent snacking on foods with added sugar.
  • Avoid drinking acidic drinks, such as juice, soft drink, energy drinks or sports drinks. These drinks can cause decay and tooth erosion.

How to protect your baby’s teeth

  • Your oral health affects your baby’s oral health. Ensure parents/caregivers and siblings have good oral health and don’t have untreated decay.
  • Calcium is particularly important in your diet while you are pregnant and breastfeeding. It helps build the teeth and bones of the developing child. Read more about healthy eating during pregnancy on the Growing Good Habits website.
  • Tooth decay in children is preventable. Read more about how to prevent tooth decay in babies and toddlers and children.

More information

Last updated: 5 April 2019