Diseases & Conditions

Dental Care During Pregnancy

It’s vitally important for you to take good care of your oral health while you are pregnant. Pregnancy increases your risk of developing gum disease. Oral health can affect the health of your developing baby and dental infections have been linked to preterm labor.

Below are some suggestions for maintaining good oral health as well as your baby’s health and safety before, during, and after your pregnancy.

While you are pregnant

  • Tell your dentist (and health care provider) if you know you are pregnant. This will help your health care providers plan for any treatments or procedures. It's always best to complete any major dental treatment prior to pregnancy. Routine dental care, on the other hand, can be received during the second trimester. As a precautionary measure, dental treatments during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester should be avoided as much as possible. These are critical times in the baby’s growth and development, and it’s simply wise to avoid exposing the mother to procedures that could in any way "influence" the baby’s growth and development. All elective dental procedures should be postponed until after the delivery.
  • Tell your dentist the names and dosages of all medicines you are taking (including medicines and prenatal vitamins prescribed by your doctor) as well as any specific medical advice your doctor has given you to follow. Your dentist might need to alter your dental treatment plan based on this information. Certain drugs such as tetracycline can affect the development of your child's teeth and should not be given during pregnancy.
  • Avoid dental x-rays during pregnancy. If x-rays are essential, your dentist will use a shield to safeguard you and your baby. Advances in dentistry have made x-rays much safer today than in past decades.
  • Don’t skip your dental checkup appointment simply because you are pregnant.
  • Follow good oral hygiene practices to prevent and/or reduce gingival problems, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Use a good-quality, soft-bristled toothbrush. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, and brush for at least two minutes to remove the plaque that forms on your teeth.
  • If morning sickness is keeping you from brushing your teeth, change to a bland-tasting toothpaste during your pregnancy. Ask your dentist or hygienist to recommend brands.
  • Rinse your mouth out with water or a mouth rinse if you suffer from morning sickness and have bouts of frequent vomiting.
  • Ask your dentist about the need for fluoride supplements. Since fluoride is found in water and almost all brands of toothpaste, fluoride supplementation might not be necessary.
  • Avoid sugary snacks. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy. However, keep in mind that the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay. Additionally, some bacteria responsible for tooth decay are passed from the mother to the child, so be careful of what you eat.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into your pregnancy. Healthy diets containing dairy products, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of these essential minerals and are good for your baby’s developing teeth, gums, and bones.
  • Consult with your dentist or doctor about the need for anesthesia or other medicines should a dental emergency arise. Make sure you tell all health care providers you come into contact with that you are pregnant. This information could change their treatment plans.
  • If you experienced any gum problems during pregnancy, such as gingivitis or a pregnancy tumor, see your dentist soon after delivery to have your entire mouth examined and your periodontal health evaluated.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/23/2012...#11194