Oral health in pregnancy

Oral health may not be the first thing on your mind during pregnancy, but changing hormone levels can affect teeth and gums, so it’s a really important time to look after our teeth.

The great news is that dental care is free during pregnancy and up until your baby is 1 year old, so it’s the perfect time to get a check-up.

What can we do to take care of our teeth and gums during pregnancy?

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes using a toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Floss once a day to remove any food trapped between the teeth as this will help to stop plaque building up.
  • Morning sickness is definitely not fun and our teeth hate it too! If you’re sick, try to rinse your mouth with water straight away and avoid brushing for an hour. This will help to prevent the acid from damaging your teeth.
  • Avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol. A great alternative is a salt-water rinse which also reduces any inflammation of the gums. Use one teaspoon of salt added to a warm cup of water. Swirl the rinse around your mouth before spitting it out.
  • Try to keep any sugary drinks or foods to mealtimes; this includes fruit juices, smoothies and dried fruit.
  • Cut down or quit smoking.

Frequently asked questions:

It can be alarming to see blood when we brush however it’s very common. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, this leads to inflammation and bleeding. This is also known as pregnancy gingivitis. Brushing, flossing and limiting sugary foods and drinks to mealtimes will all reduce the effects of this.

Although there are many brands of toothpaste promising lots of different things, you don’t have to spend a lot to look after your teeth. Any toothpaste containing between 1350ppm and 1500ppm of fluoride will give your teeth the protection they need. You can find the amount of fluoride a toothpaste contains in the list of ingredients on the back of the tube or box.

To get free dental care, you need to apply for a maternity exemption certificate (MatEx). Ask your doctor, nurse or midwife for form FW8. You complete parts 1 and 2 of the form, and your doctor, midwife or nurse signs it to confirm that it’s correct.