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Oral Health in 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 especially 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.

 

  • Tender, red, swollen and / or bleeding gums are signs of gum disease. At any time these symptoms should be discussed with a dentist but especially so in pregnancy.

    Gum disease puts your teeth at risk of decay and if not treated it will cause tooth loss.

    It also allows a route for bacteria to get into the bloodstream – this is particularly important to avoid in pregnancy. Some research has shown it can increase the risk of early birth.

    To avoid complications from gum disease;

    • 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 affects oral health by reducing the oxygen supply in the blood that keeps gums healthy.

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

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

    • 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 and yoghurts.
    • Take Vitamin D (10 micrograms daily) to help keep strong bones and teeth.
    • Choose fresh fruits rather than sweets and chocolates when you crave sweet foods.

  • 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 plenty 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 for this, however, it is really important that you keep your teeth as clean as you can.  Here are some tips;

    • Try using a smaller, softer toothbrush
    • Brush later than usual if your sickness improves over the day
    • Concentrate on breathing in and out slowly as you brush
    • Change toothpaste brands or flavourings
    • Brush with water and use fluoride mouthwash on days when it is really bad
    • Whenever possible stick to twice daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste

     

  • NHS dental care is free during pregnancy and for a further year after your due date.

    Ask your Midwife or GP for an MatEx form (FW8) to show your dentist.

    If you do not already have an NHS dentist you can find one in your area here

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

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. 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. CLICK HERE

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