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Teeth - looking after your teeth during pregnancy

teeth; tooth; gums; dental; decay; oral; hygiene; brushing; flossing; fluoride; plaque; x-ray;

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During pregnancy you may get gums problems - they may become more tender and bleed. Gently brush your gums when you brush your teeth. 

Pregnancy does not cause dental decay. There is no truth in the old wives' tale that 'a tooth is lost with every pregnancy'.

It is possible that poor dental health may be linked to premature birth so keeping your teeth and gums healthy is important.

More information

Pregnancy, birth and baby website 
http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/

Before you become pregnant

  • It is important to care for your teeth and gums before pregnancy.
  • Brush your teeth and along the gum-line twice a day with a small, soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

Visit your dentist

  • It may be more comfortable for you to have any dental treatment before pregnancy. You may have morning sickness or become tired as your pregnancy progresses.

Now that you are pregnant

  • If you are pregnant or suspect that you are, it is important to tell your dental professional when you visit.
  • During your pregnancy, ask your dental professional to check your gums and tell you how to care for them.
  • Dentists and doctors are careful in prescribing medicines to pregnant woman. Some medicines such as tetracycline antibiotics can affect your baby's developing teeth.

Morning sickness

You may get morning sickness or gastric reflux (heartburn).

  • The stomach contents are acidic and can coat the teeth when you vomit. This acid can cause dental erosion and increase the risk of tooth decay by dissolving tooth enamel.
  • Don't brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after vomiting or reflux. This will give the enamel time to recover from the acid attack.
  • Instead,
    • Rinse your mouth with water after you vomit to help wash the acid away.
    • Smear some fluoride toothpaste on your teeth to refresh your mouth and help strengthen enamel.

Brushing is important

  • To avoid plaque build up thoroughly clean your teeth and gums twice a day. Brush in the morning after breakfast and last thing at night before going to sleep.
  • Some pregnant women find they gag while brushing their teeth. If brushing makes you feel sick try using a soft small headed toothbrush designed for children and brush later in the morning when you may not gag as much. Concentrate on your breathing as you clean your back teeth.
  • Brushing without toothpaste may help. Then smear fluoride toothpaste over your teeth after brushing and don’t rinse it off. Return to brushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as possible.

Fluoride

  • Fluoride strengthens the teeth and helps to prevent decay.
  • Fluoride in toothpaste or water does not harm a developing baby.

What about dental x-rays?

  • If possible dental x-rays should be avoided during pregnancy. If your dental professional considers it essential for you to have an x-ray, special care and protection will be taken.

If you have cravings for certain foods

  • Frequent sugary or acidic snacks and drinks (such as orange juice) increase the risk of tooth decay and erosion.
  • Choose a wide variety of snacks which are low in sugar, fat and salt, and high in fibre.
  • Drink tap water.
  • Rinse your mouth with tap water between meals.

Calcium is very important

Calcium is very important for your baby's teeth and bones.

  • From four months your baby's teeth and bones begin to calcify. The calcium and phosphorus needed comes from what you eat, and if necessary from your bones. These minerals do not come from your teeth.
  • From 7 months your baby needs even more calcium and phosphorous.
  • These minerals are best obtained by you eating dairy foods.
    • Milk and milk products are excellent sources of calcium. Choose those that are low in fat and sugar.
    • If you don't drink milk or eat dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt, choose other products that are high in calcium (such as soy milk with added calcium). See your doctor or a dietician for advice. They may recommend calcium tablets.
  • Check the packaging of any product you are having. Calcium will be one of the listed contents.
  • The recommended daily intake of calcium for a pregnant or breastfeeding woman over the age of 18 is 1000mg. The recommended daily intake of calcium for teenagers who are pregnant or breastfeeding is between 1000mg - 1300mg.
  • The following foods are high in calcium. Choosing 4 serves of these foods will provide the daily amount of calcium you need
    • 1 glass (250ml) reduced fat milk - 360mg calcium
    • 1 tub (200g) non-fat or skim yoghurt - 360mg
    • 3cm cube (30g) reduced fat cheese - 260mg
    • 100g pink salmon with bones - 300mg
    • ½ cup spinach - 100mg

Passing decay-causing bacteria on to your baby

  • Babies are born with no decay causing bacteria (germs) in their mouth.
  • Everybody except newborns have varying levels of decay causing bacteria in their mouth.
  • The bacteria are passed from person to person.
  • Decay causing bacteria are passed to the baby by their carers and family through using the same spoon when eating or by cleaning the dummy in their own mouth. A baby's teeth are at risk from these bacteria from the time the teeth first appear.
  • Carers, especially mothers, can lower the amount of bacteria passed to their baby by keeping their own teeth and mouth healthy. Remember to brush your teeth after breakfast and before bedtime, floss regularly, choose healthy snacks, limit how often you eat sugary food, drink tap water and have a dental check up.
  • It is important to have your own decay treated so you will have lower levels of bacteria in your mouth.

Is dental treatment during pregnancy safe?

  • Speak with your dental professional about whether you need treatment during your pregnancy.
  • You may be more comfortable when lying back in the dental chair, with your right hip raised using a pillow or towel.

More information 

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.

 

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