Pregnancy and the Importance of Oral Health

Dental health concept during a pregnancy

Learn why oral health is so important through your pregnancy and how you can improve your health and the dental health of your child for years to come.

Improving your oral health as a pregnant woman is lesser know but very important way to prevent cavities in your young children. Pregnancy may actually make women more prone to periodontal (gum) disease and cavities. Oral health should be considered an important part of prenatal care, given that poor oral health during pregnancy can lead to poor health outcomes for the mother and baby. Protect Tiny Teeth, written by the American Academy of Pediatrics, includes a helpful array of information to help create awareness that oral health should be part of a woman’s prenatal care routine, as well as tips on how pregnant women and new moms can protect their oral health and the oral health of their infants.

Does oral health affect pregnancy?

The short answer is, yes. Your oral health affects your overall health no matter your age, or physical condition. Oral health is an important part of prenatal care, through the developing years of your child’s life, for both yourself and your child. During pregnancy, your oral health will directly impact your unborn child, and after birth, it is important to set a good example and encourage proper oral hygiene and dental care. 

How does oral health affect pregnancy?

Pregnant women can be more at risk for cavities due to changes in behaviors, like new eating habits. Women with many cavity-causing bacteria during pregnancy and after childbirth can transmit these bacteria from their mouth to their baby’s mouth. Contact with these bacteria and other sugars at a young and vulnerable age can lead to early childhood cavities and the need for extensive dental care as a child. Frequent snacking or taking a bottle to bed should be avoided at all costs.

Pregnancy and Oral Health Facts:

  • 1 in 4 women of childbearing age has untreated cavities
  • Children with mothers who have untreated cavities or tooth loss are more than three times more likely to have cavities as a child
  • Kids with poor oral health are roughly three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain

Proper oral health during pregnancy

Pregnancy comes with many responsibilities—and how you care for your teeth is no exception. Most routine dental visits are safe during pregnancy, but you should always inform your dentist and the receptionist which month of pregnancy you are in when scheduling your appointment.

If your pregnancy is considered high-risk or you have other medical conditions, your dentist and your physician should have a conversation and may recommend that your dental treatment be postponed until after childbirth. 

Always be sure to tell your dentist about any change in medications you take or if you have special instructions from your physician. Also, make sure to keep your dentist informed if you experience any swelling, redness, or bleeding in your mouth or gums.

6 tips for maintaining a healthy mouth during pregnancy:

  • Brush thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste twice a day (ADA-approved toothpaste recommended)
  • Floss daily
  • Eat a balanced diet and snack in moderation (or not at all)
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups
  • For plaque control, your dentist might suggest rinsing at night with an antimicrobial mouth rinse
  • If you have morning sickness and are vomiting frequently, try rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a small glass of water to prevent  stomach acid from damaging your teeth

If you’re in the family planning stages or currently pregnant, there are a number of things you can start or keep doing to ensure proper dental health for yourself and your child. If you have any special circumstances always ask your dentist for their professional advice. Oh, and one more thing — Congratulations!