5 things to know about oral health and pregnancy

Jo Purssey, Oral Health Therapist and Oral Health Advisory Panel member, answers your questions about oral health and pregnancy

1. If a customer visits the pharmacy and asks for advice about maintaining a good oral hygiene routine during pregnancy, what advice can I offer?

Contrary to the old wives’ tales, pregnancy itself doesn’t damage the mother’s teeth, however it can lead to issues with gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay.

As with all the life stages, maintaining an effective oral hygiene routine is essential during pregnancy to prevent dental decay and disease. This means brushing morning and night and morning with a fluoridated toothpaste, regular interdental cleaning, eating a balanced diet, and visiting your oral health professional regularly.

For optimal health during your pregnancy, a visit to your oral health professional as soon as you are planning a pregnancy or as soon as you know you are pregnant is recommended. This will allow plenty of time to assess, plan and attend to your own oral health, as well as provide much needed information on what is the ideal environment for your new baby to secure optimal oral health for their future.

2. If I notice a heavily pregnant customer browsing the mouth wash aisle in the pharmacy, what information about OTC products during pregnancy should I share with her?

Many over-the-counter products are safe to take during pregnancy. Mouth wash solutions that contain alcohol should also be avoided, as no known quantity of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy.

You could suggest she try an alcohol-free, fluoridated mouth wash, which can help provide some additional protection against decay.

Ideally, the best suggestion to make is to ask if the customer has had a recent oral health check? Do they know the status of their own oral health, as this will directly impact on the babies oral health for life, once they are born?

3. If, while speaking with a customer who is obviously pregnant, I notice her gums look quite red and inflamed, what advice should I offer?

Hormonal changes can make pregnant women more susceptible to gum disease called gingivitis – where gums become red and inflamed, and prone to bleeding.

There have been some studies, which suggest a link between gum disease and preterm/low birth weight babies. While the current evidence is not predictable, it would be best to ensure your own oral health is being managed.

Signs of gum disease may include…

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