How to maintain oral health during pregnancy

Maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is crucial for both the mother and the developing baby

Here's a brief explanation of the importance of oral health during pregnancy and its impact on overall health:


  1. Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy hormones can increase the risk of gum disease and gingivitis. These conditions can lead to swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, which, if left untreated, may progress to more severe gum disease and even tooth loss
  2. Pregnancy Gingivitis: Pregnancy gingivitis is a common oral health issue during pregnancy. It is characterised by gum inflammation and can cause discomfort and sensitivity. If left untreated, it may contribute to preterm birth or low birth weight
  3. Systemic Health Connection: Poor oral health during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of several systemic health problems, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (high blood pressure), and preterm birth. Maintaining oral health can help reduce these risks
  4. Nutrient Absorption: Oral health plays a role in proper nutrition. Gum disease can affect the ability to chew and consume a balanced diet, potentially impacting the overall health of both the mother and the developing baby
  5. Preventive Measures: Practicing good oral hygiene habits, such as regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups, can help prevent dental issues during pregnancy. By maintaining oral health, pregnant individuals can minimise the risk of complications and maintain their overall well-being


It's essential for pregnant women to prioritise their oral health by practicing good oral hygiene, seeking regular dental care, and discussing any concerns with their healthcare providers. By doing so, they can contribute to a healthy pregnancy and support their own well-being as well as the oral health of their baby.


How hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect oral health?

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can have a significant impact on oral health. These changes can increase the risk of various oral health issues and may require extra attention and care. 

  1. Gingivitis and Gum Disease: Pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, can affect the way gums respond to plaque bacteria. This hormonal shift can lead to an increased risk of gingivitis, which is characterised by red, swollen, and tender gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to gum disease (periodontitis), causing the gums to pull away from the teeth, leading to bone and tooth loss.
  2. Pregnancy Tumors: Some pregnant women may develop pregnancy tumors, also known as pyogenic granulomas or pregnancy epulides. These are non-cancerous growths that appear as swollen, reddish, or raw-looking lumps on the gums. Hormonal changes can contribute to their development, although the exact cause is not fully understood. Pregnancy tumors are usually benign and tend to resolve after giving birth.
  3. Increased Risk of Tooth Decay: Hormonal changes can affect the composition of saliva, leading to an increased risk of tooth decay. Saliva helps neutralize acids and provides a protective barrier against bacteria in the mouth. Changes in saliva flow and composition can make pregnant individuals more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.
  4. Tooth Mobility and Erosion: Hormonal fluctuations can affect the ligaments and bone supporting the teeth, making them more prone to mobility or shifting. Additionally, acid erosion can occur due to vomiting or increased acidity in the mouth, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and enamel erosion.
  5. Dry Mouth: Some pregnant women may experience dry mouth, known as xerostomia, during pregnancy. Reduced saliva flow can contribute to oral health problems, including increased tooth decay risk and difficulties in chewing and swallowing.

It's important for pregnant women to be aware of these potential oral health challenges and take proactive steps to maintain good oral hygiene. Regular dental check-ups, proper brushing and flossing techniques, a balanced diet, and managing any specific oral health concerns with dental professionals can help mitigate the impact of hormonal changes on oral health during pregnancy.

Dental check-ups and cleanings during pregnancy

Regular dental checks and preventative treatments help to detect any changes and problems that are best treated in the early stages.

If it's been a while since you've had a dental check-up and you've confirmed you're pregnant, make a dental appointment. Advise the receptionist when making the appointment that you're pregnant and make sure you let your dentist know as well. X-rays are not recommended during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.

Here's some information regarding the timing of dental visits during pregnancy:

  1. Preconception Dental Care: Ideally, it is recommended to schedule a dental visit before becoming pregnant or during the early stages of pregnancy. This allows the dentist to evaluate and address any existing oral health issues, provide preventive care, and discuss oral hygiene practices specific to pregnancy.
  2. First Trimester: Dental check-ups and routine cleanings can generally be safely performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. It's important to inform the dentist about the pregnancy and any changes in medications or health conditions.
  3. Second Trimester: The second trimester is often considered the most comfortable time for dental visits. By this stage, morning sickness and fatigue may have subsided, and the risk of complications is generally low. Dental treatments and cleanings can be scheduled during this period, following the dentist's recommendations and any precautions they may advise.
  4. Third Trimester: Routine dental visits can still be conducted during the third trimester; however, it's best to avoid any elective or non-essential procedures during this time. As the due date approaches, pregnant women may find it uncomfortable to sit for extended periods, so earlier in the trimester is generally preferred.
  5. Emergency Dental Care: If there is a dental emergency during pregnancy, such as severe toothache or swelling, it's important to seek immediate dental care. Infections and dental pain can impact both maternal and fetal health. Our dentists can take appropriate measures to address the emergency while considering the safety and well-being of the mother and baby.


Throughout all stages of pregnancy, it's essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices, including brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and maintaining a healthy diet. It's also crucial to communicate openly with the dental care provider, informing them about the pregnancy and any specific concerns or symptoms experienced.

However, it's important to note that individual circumstances may vary, and it's best to consult with a dental professional or obstetrician for personalised advice regarding dental care and timing of visits during pregnancy. They can provide guidance based on the individual's oral health status and any specific pregnancy-related considerations.

Maintaining good oral health during pregnancy

Here's why you should prioritise your oral health and seek professional dental care throughout pregnancy:

  1. Preventing Oral Health Issues: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of gum disease, gingivitis, and tooth decay. By prioritising your oral health and seeking regular dental care, you can prevent or manage these issues before they worsen and potentially affect your overall health.
  2. Reducing Risks to the Baby: Poor oral health has been associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and developmental complications in infants. By taking care of your oral health, you are contributing to a healthier environment for your baby's growth and development.
  3. Addressing Pregnancy-Specific Oral Health Concerns: During pregnancy, you may experience specific oral health challenges such as pregnancy gingivitis or dry mouth. Professional dental care can help address these concerns and provide personalized advice and treatment options to ensure your comfort and oral health.
  4. Safe Dental Care During Pregnancy: Routine dental check-ups and cleanings are generally safe during pregnancy. Our dentists are trained to provide appropriate care while considering the specific needs and safety measures for pregnant individuals. By seeking professional dental care, you can ensure that any necessary treatments or preventive measures are administered safely.
  5. Accessing Expert Guidance: GDC dentists can provide valuable guidance on maintaining good oral hygiene, managing pregnancy-related oral health issues, and offering recommendations tailored to your specific needs. We can address your concerns, provide advice on nutrition, and recommend appropriate oral care products to support your oral health during pregnancy.

Remember to communicate openly with your dental care provider about your pregnancy, any symptoms, and any changes in medications or health conditions. At GDC we can work in collaboration with your obstetrician to ensure a holistic approach to your overall well-being.

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