Pregnancy brings a whirlwind of changes to a woman’s body. Fluctuating hormones and changes in diet can leave pregnant women more susceptible to tooth decay, gingivitis, and other oral health issues if proper precautions aren’t taken. However, many expectant mothers don’t realize that their oral health also impacts the health of their baby.

Poor oral health in pregnant women has been linked to potential developmental problems in the fetus. As a baby’s early growth depends heavily on the mother’s health, attending to mom’s oral hygiene also benefits the developing baby.

In this blog, we will explain some of the most common oral health issues that can arise during pregnancy, discuss how poor maternal oral health can potentially impact the developing baby, and provide steps you can take to maintain good oral hygiene as you await the arrival of your little one.

Common Oral Health Issues During Pregnancy

The physical changes that come with pregnancy can affect the teeth and mouth in new ways that you may not be used to. These include the following:


Have you been feeling extra hungry now that you’re pregnant? You’re not alone! It’s common for your dietary habits and cravings to change when you’re eating for you and your baby. However, with new cravings comes the likelihood that you are eating more—and possibly consuming foods that make your teeth more prone to developing decay.

That’s why it is crucial to be diligent about your oral hygiene routines and dental visits during this special time. It’s even more important to stay on top of oral health and dental visits to prevent cavities and treat existing ones before the birth of your baby. Prioritizing prevention and treatment of existing cavities can help protect your smile and your baby’s long-term dental health.

Unfortunately, poor oral health can be easily passed to your baby. Should you get cavities in your teeth while pregnant, it is crucial to have them restored as soon as possible, as cavity-causing bacteria from mothers can be easily transferred to the baby’s mouth through close physical contact in the first months of life.

Research shows that children whose mothers have untreated tooth decay and loss are over three times more likely to develop cavities at a young age. The second trimester is usually deemed the best time for dental treatment.

Read also: The 5 Most Common Causes of Cavities in Children

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to inflamed and bleeding gums, a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. This inflammation enables more plaque to accumulate around the teeth.

While gingivitis itself is reversible with proper oral care, without treatment, it can progress to periodontitis, an advanced gum infection that causes irreversible bone loss around teeth.

Periodontitis may eventually require tooth extraction if the supporting bone deteriorates extensively. There is also evidence linking poor maternal oral health to potential pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, low birth weight, and premature delivery.

The key to protecting oral health during this vulnerable time is diligent brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. Pregnant women often need to step up their dental care routine as gum tissues become more sensitive to bacteria.

Acid Attacks

If you’re struggling with heartburn and morning sickness—both common occurrences during pregnancy—you might also be dealing with acid attacks that can erode your teeth’s enamel, making them prone to tooth decay, sensitivity, and deterioration. Drinking acidic drinks like juice, soda, or carbonated water can make the problem even worse.

Tips to Maintain Oral Health During Pregnancy

What can you do to prevent serious complications and take care of your oral health during pregnancy? There are several things that are recommended to help expectant mothers maintain good oral health and avoid dental issues. Below are just some of them:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet low in sugary and starchy foods. This helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Brush your teeth thoroughly with fluoridated toothpaste two or three times each day.
  • Floss once or twice daily to remove food debris and plaque from between teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth with water and a teaspoon of baking soda to help your mouth recover from heartburn and morning sickness that causes acid attacks.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to prevent dry mouth. Lack of saliva allows more bacteria to grow in the mouth.
  • Chew gum with xylitol several times per day. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that helps prevent cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth. Continue chewing xylitol gum for the first few months after your baby is born to help protect you both from cavities.

Making these simple changes can protect your oral health during pregnancy and help you feel better at the same time.

Why You Should See the Dentist While Pregnant

Seeing the dentist regularly is another important part of maintaining oral health during pregnancy. If you have untreated cavities, it is best to have them restored before your baby is born, if possible. The safest time to undergo dental treatment is during the second trimester of your pregnancy.

Talking to your dentist can also help you find ways to prevent other oral health issues during your pregnancy that can affect the baby. Your dentist can also help you understand how you can take care of your oral health while dealing with the changes of pregnancy.

Our pediatric dental specialists are here to serve as a trusted resource during this exciting change in your and your family’s life. If you have more questions about dental health during your pregnancy, call Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry at (337) 443-9944.