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Pregnancy and Oral Health

Pregnant belly

Pregnancy can be an exciting time filled with many adjustments, especially to the body. While your body is undergoing changes to nourish your baby, some parts of your body may be vulnerable or susceptible to problems. Your oral health may be negatively affected during pregnancy due to hormone fluctuations, vomiting and sugar cravings.

Though pregnancy is not a direct cause, changes in lifestyle that people who are pregnant undergo may increase their risk for certain oral health conditions. Considering that your mouth and teeth are vulnerable during pregnancy, paying extra attention to the area will relieve the risk of developing dental issues.

Pregnancy may increase your risk of oral health conditions such as:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Pregnancy epulis (pyogenic granuloma)
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth erosion

Ongoing research has examined the connection between pregnancy and periodontal inflammation. Compared to pregnant women with healthy gums, those with inflamed gums have higher rates of preterm delivery, low birthweight babies and other pregnancy complications. Ongoing research is investigating whether prevention or treatment of periodontitis may reduce those risks.

Please disclose your pregnancy to your oral healthcare provider so they can tailor your dental care to your needs. Patients may see an oral healthcare provider at any point during their pregnancy, and non-urgent procedures may be performed after the first trimester. Dental x-rays and antibiotics such as amoxicillin and penicillin are safe during pregnancy, but if you need other medications, your oral healthcare provider may recommend a consultation with your obstetrician.

Things to keep in mind during pregnancy:

  • Continue your regular dental checkups during pregnancy and tell the dentist you are pregnant. Local anesthetics and dental x-rays are safe during pregnancy and dentists will make sure to take the necessary precautions to protect you and your baby.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth after vomiting. Throwing up exposes your teeth to stomach acids and brushing immediately after may lead to loss of dental enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and then with a fluoride mouthwash. After an hour, brush your teeth as you normally would.
  • Take your time when brushing your teeth. Some pregnant patients might gag or vomit when brushing their teeth, but not brushing may lead to dental problems. If the taste of toothpaste is causing you to gag, try switching the brand.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. If your gums are sensitive or you have gum disease, a soft-bristled brush will still allow you to clean your teeth without causing irritation.
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks. Eating a healthy diet will keep your body and the baby’s nourished.
  • Increase your vitamin D and calcium intake. Vitamin D can be found in eggs, breads, some cereals and fatty fish such as salmon. Calcium will protect your bones and can be found in milk and some nuts such as almonds.

Maintaining a regular oral healthcare routine is critical to keeping your gums and mouth healthy during pregnancy. You can help maintain excellent oral health by limiting the amount of sugar in your diet, scheduling regular dental cleanings, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing every day. If dental problems arise, make sure to visit a dental professional for treatment.

The UIC College of Dentistry offers services in comprehensive, urgent and specialty care. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please visit