It is important to have a good oral hygiene routine during pregnancy. Hormonal changes can lead to swollen and bleeding gums from plaque build up. Follow these tips for healthy teeth and gums:
- Brush twice daily, last thing at night and on one other occasion. Spend at least 2 minutes brushing to make sure you don’t miss where the gum joins the teeth. This is where plaque tends to sit and can cause inflammation and bleeding gums.
- If your gums do bleed, don’t panic. Brush through the bleeding. If you are worried or it gets worse, then see your dentist for advice.
- Use the right brush for you. Usually a small, compact head with medium bristles. A manual or electric brush is fine.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste with 1350-1500ppm of fluoride in. You can see how much fluoride is in toothpaste by looking at the ingredients list on the box or tube.
- Spit out the bubbles from the excess toothpaste. Do not rinse after brushing as it washes away the protection from the fluoride in the toothpaste.
- If using a mouthwash make sure it contains fluoride and that it is alcohol free (look for the words AF on the bottle). It's best to use mouthwash at a different time of the day to toothbrushing. Using mouthwash straight after brushing - just like rinsing with water after brushing will wash away the fluoride in the toothpaste left over from brushing and will reduce how well the toothpaste protects your teeth.
- Try to floss or clean inbetween teeth once a day, this is where food debris can collect and your toothbrush can’t get to.
- Keep sugary foods and drinks to mealtimes to protect teeth from decay. Sugar is one of the main causes of tooth decay. The bacteria in plaque break down the sugar in food and drinks and produce acid. The acid weakens the tooth's outer surface (enamel), this leaves the tooth vulnerable to decay. It can take up to an hour for the saliva in your mouth to harden the enamel and repair the damage. If the episodes of the weakened enamel are happening too often, our saliva can’t work hard enough to harden the enamel back up. This is the first stage of tooth decay.
- Stop smoking as it will increase the risk of gum disease.
- Remember to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste into your hospital bag.
Morning sickness can be quite common. There are things you can do to protect your teeth during this time in your pregnancy:
- After vomiting rinse your mouth with water. This will wash the acid away which can damage teeth.
- After vomiting, your tooth enamel will be soft, try to wait an hour before toothbrushing to let your enamel re-harden. This prevents you brushing your enamel away.
- You may want to also use a fluoride mouthwash after vomiting. This will help to neutralise the acids and strengthen tooth enamel.
NHS dental care is free during pregnancy and for 12 months after your baby is born.
When visiting the dentist be sure to let them know that you are pregnant. Some non-urgent work, like replacing fillings may be postponed until after your baby is born. If you need an x-ray during pregnancy your dentist will discuss this with you.