Protecting patients during pregnancy

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  Posted by: Dental Design      8th September 2022

Pregnancy often invites excitement and trepidation in equal measure; alongside many emotional highs and lows, the body experiences a vast array of changes that can make navigating this time a challenge. Oral health is not exempt from these bodily shifts, and the importance of support from dental professionals cannot be understated. Many expecting women may put oral health at the bottom of their list of concerns, whether due to a lack of understanding or simply having a number of other things to consider and prepare for.

Therefore, it’s crucial to offer specific support and guidance to patients who are pregnant, to make sure they’re well equipped to ensure improved overall health.

What are the risks?

The risks of periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis, are high during pregnancy, due to hormonal alterations triggering a heightened inflammatory response to the build-up of plaque in the mouth. [i] [ii] As a result, some women may experience sore and bleeding gums, usually referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.[iii]

There is much literature that explores the relationship between adverse pregnancy outcomes and periodontal diseases. Preeclampsia has been associated with the maternal periodontal condition,[iv] as have premature births.[v]

Pregnant women may also be at risk of loose teeth, tooth loss and/or tooth movement;[vi] this may be linked to the body’s higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone, which can affect many tissues within the body. Research[vii] has also suggested that the hormone relaxin could be to blame. Relaxin is produced by the ovary and the placenta, and helps the body to prepare for birth by relaxing the ligaments in the pelvis, and widening the cervix.[viii] Researchers have hypothesised that relaxin could influence tooth movement as a result of alterations of the periodontal ligament.[ix]

Pregnant women who experience morning sickness may be at a higher risk of tooth erosion, demineralisation and cavities.[x] [xi] As you well know, if thorough oral health measures are not maintained, the mouth will soon become a highly acidic environment. Additionally, many pregnant women may crave foods that are acidic and sugary, further increasing their risk of adverse oral health complications. Just some of the most common foods craved by expecting mothers include chocolate, fizzy drinks, cake and ice lollies.[xii]

A helping hand

Many patients may already be fully aware of the importance of good oral health during pregnancy. Nonetheless, reiterating all the necessary information will further aid them in keeping their oral health in tip top shape.

Diet is incredibly important throughout the duration of pregnancy, for both oral health and overall wellbeing. Expecting women should consume calcium-rich foods, such as green, leafy vegetables and dairy products, as well as foods rich in vitamins A, C and D.vii Interestingly, many expectant mothers believe that being pregnant removes calcium from their teeth. It is important to remind your patients that all the calcium a baby requires is provided by diet, and not from their teeth. Detrimental effects on the teeth are caused by pregnancy cravings and frequent sugar consumption.

Therefore, sugary foods and drinks should be avoided as much as possible, but with pregnancy cravings, this may be difficult. With the addition of extensive morning sickness, extraoral care measures should be adopted to curb the development of any oral health issues. This could include thoroughly rinsing the mouth after vomiting, using interdental brushes or dental floss and using a small-headed toothbrush with soft filaments, to avoid irritating the gingiva.[xiii]

Some pregnant women may not feel comfortable attending the dentist whilst pregnant, which can present as a problem for dental professionals should more severe oral health issues occur. Therefore, gently encouraging pregnant patients to regularly attend appointments will help to prevent any issues from arising.

Simplifying oral hygiene

When pregnant, there are innumerable bodily changes that occur, as well as things that new parents must prepare for. A thorough oral hygiene routine may not be at the top of the priority list; however, as a dental professional, you play an integral role in the health of a pregnant patient. If your patient is struggling to maintain their oral health, why not consider recommending a solution that will give them a professionally-cleaned feeling at home, keeping their oral cavity free from complications?

The Waterpik® Ultra Professional Water Flosser is the perfect partner to a patient’s oral health. With a sleek and compact design, the Waterpik® Ultra Professional Water Flosser is easy to use and comes with seven flossing tips, ten pressure settings and a water on/off pause button in the handle. This innovative solution helps to remove up to 99% of plaque and is 50% more effective for improving gum health versus string floss.[xiv] [xv] With a deep clean between teeth and below the gumline, your patients can enjoy an incredibly fresh and clean smile, every day. With nearly 60 years of innovation, it’s no wonder that Waterpik® is the world’s #1 water flosser brand.

Pregnant patients need all the support they can get during this joyous and tumultuous time. Straightforward advice and guidance will help them to establish better oral hygiene habits and decrease the risk of developing more serious complications. This will give them the peace of mind to truly cherish this life-changing milestone.


For more information on Waterpik® Water Flosser products visit Waterpik® products are available from Amazon, Costco UK, Argos, Boots, Superdrug and Tesco online and in stores across the UK and Ireland.

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Margaret Black Bio

Margaret has more than 40 years experience in dental practice starting as a dental nurse in an nhs practice in 1978 and qualified as a dental hygienist in 1992. She worked for 21 years in NHS practice before becoming a clinical hygienist research assistant with the University of Dundee. Presently she fills her time as a self employed locum hygienist at Even Brighter Hygienist Services and presently covers 7 mainly private practices in Fife/Tayside/Perthshire and Angus. Her enthusiasm for perio has never waned, and her post as a Professional Educator for Waterpik has enabled her to share experience gained over the years with other professionals


[i] Bamanikar, S. and Kee, L.K. (2013). Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Oral and Dental Healthcare in Pregnant Women. Oman Medical Journal, [online] 28(4), pp.288–291. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2022].

[ii] Naseem, M., Khurshid, Z., Khan, H.A., Niazi, F., Zohaib, S. and Zafar, M.S. (2016). Oral health challenges in pregnant women: Recommendations for dental care professionals. The Saudi Journal for Dental Research, [online] 7(2), pp.138–146. Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2022].

[iii] Morelli, E., Broadbent, J., Leichter, J. and Thomson, W. (2018). Pregnancy, parity and periodontal disease. Australian Dental Journal, [online] 63(3), pp.270–278. Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2022].

[iv] Ha, J.-E., Oh, K.-J., Yang, H.-J., Jun, J.-K., Jin, B.-H., Paik, D.-I. and Bae, K.-H. (2011). Oral Health Behaviors, Periodontal Disease, and Pathogens in Preeclampsia: A Case-Control Study in Korea. Journal of Periodontology, [online] 82(12), pp.1685–1692. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2022].

[v] Uwambaye, P., Munyanshongore, C., Rulisa, S., Shiau, H., Nuhu, A. and Kerr, M.S. (2021). Assessing the association between periodontitis and premature birth: a case-control study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, [online] 21(1). Available at:  [Accessed 11 May 2022].

[vi] Yenen, Z. and Ataçağ, T. (2019). Oral care in pregnancy. Journal of the Turkish German Gynecological Association, [online] 20(4), pp.264–268. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2022].

[vii] Nicozisis, J.L., Nah-Cederquist, H.-D. and Tuncay, O.C. (2000). Relaxin affects the dentofacial sutural tissues. Clinical Orthodontics and Research, [online] 3(4), pp.192–201. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2022].

[viii] (n.d.). Relaxin | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2022].

[ix] Madan, M.S., Liu, Z.J., Gu, G.M. and King, G.J. (2007). Effects of human relaxin on orthodontic tooth movement and periodontal ligaments in rats. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, [online] 131(1), pp.8.e1–8.e10. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2022].

[x] Anuradha, B., Manasa, N. and Mitthra, S. (2020). Dental Health and Pregnancy – An Overview. ndian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, [online] 14(4). Available at:,5&as_ylo=2019&as_yhi=2022 [Accessed 11 May 2022].

[xi] Gavic, L., Maretic, A., Putica, S. and Tadin, A. (2022). Attitudes and knowledge of pregnant women about oral health. Journal of education and health promotion, [online] 11, p.77. Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2022].

[xii] (n.d.). The UK’s weirdest pregnancy cravings revealed | Emma’s Diary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2022].

[xiii] (2020). Teeth and gum problems. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 11 May 2022].

[xiv] Waterpik UK. Waterpik Water Flosser removes 99.9% of plaque biofilm. Available online. [Accessed 11 May 2022 22]

[xv] Waterpik UK. Waterpik Water Flosser: Twice as effective as string floss. Available online. Accessed 11 May 2022]

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