Pregnancy and you blog

Dental health during pregnancy

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. June 2, 2009

Dental health during pregnancy isn't a glamorous topic, but it's an important one. Misconceptions and misinformation about dental health during pregnancy are common — and often these issues aren't discussed at prenatal appointments.

Consider possible dental health problems during pregnancy:

  • Tooth decay. During pregnancy, increased acidity in the mouth increases the risk of tooth decay. Vomiting during pregnancy can aggravate the problem by exposing the teeth to more gastric acid.
  • Loose teeth. Increased levels of progesterone and estrogen can affect the ligaments and bones that support the teeth, causing teeth to loosen during pregnancy — even in the absence of gum disease.
  • Gum disease. The hormonal changes of pregnancy can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the superficial gum tissue. Left untreated, severe gum disease may be associated with preterm birth and low birth weight.

So what can you do to keep your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy? Stick to the basics. Use a soft bristled toothbrush. Floss regularly. Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash. If you have morning sickness, rinse your mouth with a solution of baking soda and water after vomiting. Mix one teaspoon baking soda in one cup water.

Ideally, schedule a dental exam before pregnancy to treat any dental problems ahead of time. Also visit your dentist regularly during pregnancy — especially if you develop a dental problem. If you have questions or concerns about dental care during pregnancy, you can also check with your health care provider.

Jun. 02, 2009