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Pregnancy

Teeth and Mouth Care during Pregnancy

Good oral health is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. It can improve your health and well-being during pregnancy and contributes to improving the oral health of your baby.

​​​​​When should I see my oral health professional when I am pregnant?

If you haven’t been to your dentist or dental hygienist in the last 9 to 12 months, the first 3 months of your pregnancy is a good time to have your mouth checked. If you see changes in your mouth while you are pregnant, you should also see your oral health professional.

​​​​​Can I have dental care while I am pregnant?

Dental care during pregnancy is safe. Discuss your dental care needs with your oral health professional.

​​​​​What can I do to keep my teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy?

  • If recommended, have your teeth cleaned to remove deposits that can irritate and infect the gums (pregnancy gingivitis).
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste two times a day, and floss once a day to prevent tooth decay.
  • If you use tobacco products, choose to quit.
  • Limit foods with sugar and starch to mealtimes where possible.
  • Don’t sip beverages with natural and added sugar throughout the day. These drinks can lead to tooth decay e.g. juice, sports drinks, pop, specialty coffee, flavored water.

​​​​​What are common teeth and gum problems during pregnancy?

  • Pregnancy gingivitis is a gum disease that may develop when hormones make gums more sensitive to plaque and bacteria. Gums are red, swollen, bleed easily and may be tender to touch. Tobacco products can also cause pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis can increase your risk of tooth decay, especially if you don’t brush your teeth and gums. Sometimes you can get a more serious form of pregnancy gingivitis called periodontal disease.
  • Tooth erosion or wearing away of the hard outer layer of the tooth is caused by stomach acids being in contact with teeth. This can happen with vomiting, heartburn or reflux during your pregnancy. Erosion makes teeth sensitive and uncomfortable. People with sensitive teeth often avoid the things that cause this discomfort including foods, drinks and even brushing and flossing. Your risk of developing tooth decay increases with tooth erosion. The risk also increases if you change your food choices and how you care for your teeth and gums.
  • Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth make tooth decay acids from the sugars and starches you eat every day. The acids attack the surface of the teeth for about 20 minutes after eating. Eating and drinking foods throughout the day that contain sugar and starch—even naturally occurring sugar—increases the number of times the tooth is exposed to acid attack. This can increase your risk of developing tooth decay. Pregnancy doesn’t cause tooth decay, but while you are pregnant your eating habits (e.g., the number of times you eat and drink during the day, and the types of food and drinks you choose) might change.

If you are pregnant and have a low income, you may qualify for dental care assistance through the Alberta Adult Health Benefit.​

Current as of: September 16, 2016

Author: Oral Health, Alberta Health Services