Teeth & Toothbrushing

Oral Health During Pregnancy

It is a myth that being pregnant is bad for your teeth. However, the physical changes that happen in pregnancy, along with the needs of a growing baby, means that it is important to take care of your oral health.

This is because:

  • The negative effects of plaque (the layer of harmful bacteria that clings to teeth if not cleaned regularly) are greater during pregnancy.
  • Cravings for sweet food/drinks can increase sugar intake.
  • Being sick can increase acid levels in the mouth.
  • Feeling sick and retching making tooth brushing more difficult.
Dive Deeper

Diet For Healthy Teeth & Gums

When you are pregnant the food and drink you eat is important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Your diet is also important for your baby’s teeth which begin to form in their gums from the sixth week of pregnancy! By the time babies are born all the teeth they will ever have are already in their jaw.

To keep teeth and gums healthy;

  • Replace fizzy and sugary drinks with lots of tap water - it has fluoride already.
  • Avoid sugary snacks - if you crave sweet foods try and keep them to mealtimes.
  • Eat foods rich in calcium – like milk, cheese or yogurt.
  • Take Vitamin D (10 micrograms daily) to help keep strong bones and teeth.
  • Choose fresh fruits rather than sweets and chocolates if you crave sweet foods.

Read more about eating well in pregnancy

Sickness During Pregnancy

If pregnancy is making you sick

  • Rinse your mouth with water after each time you vomit.
  • Use an alcohol free fluoride mouthwash.
  • Wait about an hour after being sick to brush teeth (due to stomach acid on the teeth) and use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Drink lots of water.

Feeling sick and brushing your teeth

If you feel sick or retch a lot in your pregnancy, tooth cleaning can be a trigger. It is really important to try and keep your teeth clean. You could try;

  • Using a smaller, softer toothbrush.
  • Brush later than usual if your sickness improves during the day.
  • Concentrate on breathing in and out slowly as you brush.
  • Try a different toothpaste brand or flavouring.
  • Brush with water and use fluoride mouthwash on days when sickness is really bad.
  • Whenever possible stick to twice daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.

Gum Disease

Tender, red, swollen or bleeding gums are signs of gum disease. Gum disease puts your teeth at risk of decay and if not treated will cause tooth loss. At any time these symptoms should be discussed with a dentist. 

Gum disease allows a route for bacteria to get into the bloodstream. Some research has shown this can increase the risk of early birth.

To keep gums healthy;

  • Clean your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth to remove food debris.
  • See your dentist when you discover you are pregnant – discuss any symptoms you have noticed.
  • Follow advice and treatment recommended by your dental team.
  • Reduce sugary foods and drinks - keep them to mealtimes.
  • Stop smoking as this reduces the oxygen supply in the blood that keeps gums healthy.

Visiting the Dentist

NHS dental care is free during pregnancy and for a year after your due date. Ask your Midwife or GP for an MatEx form (FW8) to take to your dentist.

Tell your dentist if you are, or think you might be, pregnant when you make your appointment.

Find an NHS dentist here

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below. 

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