Pennwell web 168 250

Tips for healthy oral hygiene during pregnancy

Aug. 24, 2009
According to Oral-B, as many as 70% of women are affected by gingivitis during their pregnancies. Here are some tips to share with expecting moms to help them maintain proper oral hygiene during pregnancy.

By Margaret Mitchell, DDS

© Dreamstime
Paying special attention to healthy habits during pregnancy is a top priority for moms-to-be. What many expecting women do not know is that oral hygiene is particularly important as hormones begin changing to ensure healthy teeth and gums as well as protect against larger health issues from developing for both mom and baby. According to Oral-B, as many as 70% of women are affected by gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, during their pregnancies. Gingivitis is caused by an accumulation of plaque in the mouth on the teeth and below the gum line. Fluctuating hormones can also trigger gingivitis. These hormones can cause sensitive gums, making women with pre-existing gum conditions more susceptible to developing periodontitis, followed by permanent damage to teeth and gums. Additionally, pregnant women are at greater risk for tooth decay when sugary food cravings kick in. Less common, but still a cause for concern, are “pregnancy tumors.” Despite the menacing name, this swelling of gums is not actually a tumor, but an overgrowth usually found between teeth. If any oral condition worsens to infection, the hormones released to fight it can trigger labor, resulting in premature birth or an underweight baby. Refining oral hygiene during pregnancy is one of the most important steps patients can take to help themselves and their baby. Prevention is the first line of defense for expecting moms. In addition, share these tips with them to maintain proper oral hygiene during pregnancy:
  • Inform your dentist: X-Rays can harm the baby, and medications you may be taking can affect the treatment your dentist administers.
  • Clean where the toothbrush doesn’t: Make sure to floss every day; toothbrushes can leave as much as 40% of your tooth surfaces untouched.
  • Utilize proper brushing technique: Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, using fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities.
  • Increase time spent on oral care: This means brushing after every meal if possible or at least rinsing your mouth out with water if a toothbrush is not available.
  • Floss: Make flossing or the use of a Waterpik a regular part of your oral hygiene regimen.
  • Eat well: A well-balanced diet will not only give your unborn baby nutrients, it will help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Visit your dentist: Consider more frequent visits to the dentist during pregnancy, so the risk of pregnancy gingivitis can be decreased through early detection and treatment. At the very least, regular six-month check-ups during pregnancy are important.

To find more information regarding oral hygiene during pregnancy, visit your dentist or contact Mitchell Dental Spa at

Margaret Mitchell, DDS, is a nationally renowned cosmetic and general dentist who has been practicing dentistry for more than 20 years. Originally from Elk Grove Village, Ill., Dr. Mitchell got her start by opening her own practice immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Dental School in 1988. Holding a strictly clinical position at the Mitchell Dental Spa, Dr. Mitchell performs examinations, consultations, and numerous dental procedures including fillings, crowns, and veneers. She also offers patients full dental exams to check for tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, acid reflux, sleep apnea, and TMJ problems. Dr. Mitchell completed extensive postgraduate work with institutes headed by Strupp, Pankey, Kois, Glassman, Hornbrook, and Beck. She is a member of the American Dental Association, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Equilibration Society, Academy of General Dentistry, and the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics, among others. Her Chicago-based Mitchell Dental Spa has been featured in more than 300 newspapers and magazines. Dr. Mitchell has also been featured in several television appearances including CNN, FOX, ABC’s “Nightline,” and “The Today Show.” In her spare time, Dr. Mitchell enjoys gourmet cooking, traveling to exotic locales around the world, and spending time with her three Maltese dogs.