Dental care during pregnancy

If you’re reading this as you’re expecting a baby - congratulations!

It’s an exciting time and your thoughts are no doubt preoccupied with giving your little one the healthiest start in life. But don’t forget to take care of yourself too. It can be easy to let self-care slip during these important nine months. We’re here to help with a round up of easy pointers on looking after your teeth during pregnancy.

Pregnant women

1. Free dental care

The NHS is making it easier for you to keep on top of your oral health by providing free NHS dental treatment if you're pregnant when you start your treatment and for 12 months after your baby is born. To get free NHS dental treatment, you should ask your GP or midwife for a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx).

2. Gum care

Hormonal changes in pregnancy can make some women more prone to gum disease. The gums can become sore, swollen and may bleed. There have been some links between gum disease and risks to the unborn baby, so do not ignore any signs and get it checked straight away.

Tell your dentist you are pregnant, as you may want to delay some treatment until after the baby is born, such as X-rays or anaesthesia. However, most dental treatments are perfectly safe during pregnancy and should not be postponed. Getting crowns or fillings should be done when needed to help prevent infections, for example.

If you need essential treatment during pregnancy, your dentist can use as little anaesthesia as possible in order to keep you comfortable during it. If you need a procedure that requires an X-ray, you should have it done - one individual X-ray doesn’t have enough radiation to harm a foetus.

3. Morning sickness

If you suffer from morning sickness, rinse your mouth with plain water or a fluoride mouthwash (that doesn’t contain alcohol) to protect your teeth from the acid from being sick. Chewing sugar-free gum can help remineralise your mouth after the acid attack. Try not to brush your teeth straight afterwards as this could damage the teeth. Instead, wait around 30 minutes before brushing with fluoride toothpaste.

4. Diet

A healthy diet is of course important during pregnancy for your baby, but also for your teeth. Try to limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks you consume, even if you have cravings. Cheese, carrot or celery sticks, nuts, fruits and vegetables are healthy alternatives. Make sure you continue to brush your teeth twice daily with a toothbrush or electric toothbrush, and use an interdental cleaner.

Your baby starts to grow teeth after around three months. Make sure you’re getting plenty of calcium by eating enough yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products. These foods help your baby develop healthy bones, teeth and gums.

Healthy Pregnancy | Pregnant woman with apple

5. Medication

Many medications should be avoided when pregnant, so check with your GP or midwife before taking any. It is generally safe for you to use common painkillers such as paracetamol and antibiotics when you are pregnant, but always check the label first.

6. Cosmetic treatments

While it’s important to get essential dental works done as soon as it is needed, cosmetic treatments and teeth whitening should be postponed until after you have given birth. Otherwise you could expose your baby to minor risks.

7. Postnatal check up

It’s worthwhile booking in for a check-up with your dentist after the birth of your baby, so you can start any treatments that you delayed and to have your oral health evaluated.

We hope these few pointers help you. Visiting the dentist while pregnant isn’t risky for your baby and is important to keep you both healthy.