At the end of every dental cleaning, your dentist or hygienist will polish your teeth with a fluoride polishing paste. That happens without fail at every single check up appointment.
However there are certain times where your dentist may recommend additional fluoride treatment such as in the form of a fluoride varnish or fluoride gel. These two are different from the polishing paste, which is more akin to a toothpaste. These two additional treatments usually either get painted onto the teeth or they use a stock tray to hold the gel in.
If you are pregnant, you may be curious as to whether or not all of this additional fluoride is even safe for you and your unborn child.
Are fluoride dental products safe to use while pregnant?
Dental products that contain fluoride are absolutely safe to use while you’re pregnant. No harm will come to your fetus while you’re using any of them such as a fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwash, or even fluoride treatment at the dentist.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), their guideline for dental care during pregnancy explicitly recommends the use of a fluoride toothpaste.
This is what the ADA says you should do:
- Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush for at least two minutes with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- IF it is determined that you need topical fluoride treatment, the recommendation is to use a fluoride varnish over the gel form. The reason is that the varnish is less likely to induce nausea.
To sum that up, you SHOULD be using a fluoridated toothpaste on a daily basis regardless of you being pregnant or not. That means, you shouldn’t be stopping or switching to a non-fluoridated dentifrice just because you’re carrying another human in your fetus.
In regards to the fluoride treatment, you only need to get it IF your condition necessitates it. Basically it is safe to get the fluoride while you’re pregnant. The reason why you may need it is because enamel erosion may be a problem during pregnancy.
Morning sickness and enamel erosion
One of the early signs of pregnancy happens to be morning sickness, which happens to start around the 4-6 week mark. You may start feeling nauseous and even vomit frequently in the morning. All of that stomach acid which comes up from your stomach is highly acidic. It can potentially erode your enamel due to it’s acidity.
It may be impossible to prevent morning sickness but you can at least counter act the acid effects of the vomiting by getting additional fluoride treatment. The fluoride can strengthen the enamel in multiple ways.
- Increased stability
- Increased hardness
- Reduced solubility
It is able to do this because when the fluoride comes into contact with your enamel, the fluoride ion will replace the existing hydroxyl group of the hydroxyapatite tooth structure. The fluoride ion is a much bigger and more stable structure than the smaller hydroxyl group.
In layman’s terms, the fluoride transforms your enamel into a sturdier structure, thus protecting it from all of the acid from morning sickness. If you’re throwing up in the morning, you should ask your dentist about this additional treatment!
The types of fluoride products at the dentist
There are three types of fluoride treatments which you’ll find at the dentist.
- Prophy paste. This is the equivalent to the toothpaste that you use at home. Your dentist uses it to polish your teeth at the end of the cleaning visit.
- Varnish. A very sticky caramel like consistency that gets painted onto your teeth. It will turn hard after awhile once it comes into contact with your saliva.
- APF Gel. This product is usually delivered in a tray that you have to wear for a certain amount of time.
When we talk about an additional treatment with fluoride, we’re usually referring to the varnish and gel because the prophy paste is given to everyone. There really isn’t too much of a difference between the fluoride varnish and gel aside from their delivery method.
The only thing you should be aware of is that the ADA says, if you feel nauseous, the fluoride varnish may be a better choice over the gel. It’ll probably make you less likely to gag.
Alternative fluoride-free toothpaste
It is safe to use fluoride at home and also get treatment with it at the dentist. However we do understand that some patients may not want any fluoride at all in their life. If you’re an individual that prefers to use a non-fluoride toothpaste during your pregnancy, the absolute best alternative would be a hydroxyapatite toothpaste.
These toothpastes contain nano-hydroxyapatite, which is the only other ingredient in this world which can stop and reverse cavities aside from fluoride. A study from Nature found that hydroxyapatite toothpastes were equally as effective as fluoride toothpastes in remineralizing cavities.
In other words, it is a viable replacement option for those who prefer to not use fluoride for whatever reason.
We just want to let you know that there are other alternative toothpastes out there aside from the hydroxyapatite such as charcoal, herbal, and etc. You’re free to use these other alternatives but just be aware that only fluoride and hydroxyapatite have the potential to reverse cavities.
Overall it is very safe to be using fluoride at home and also getting it at the dentist while you’re pregnant. The ADA actually recommends that you do use and continue to use a fluoride toothpaste throughout your pregnancy.
If you need additional fluoride treatment that is okay as well since they’re also safe. You may want to consider this extra treatment if you happen to have very bad morning sickness with vomiting. All of that stomach acid which comes up can erode your enamel. By getting extra fluoride you can potentially prevent or at least mitigate some of the acid damage that may occur to your enamel.
Hopefully that answers all the questions which you may have regarding the safety of fluoride treatments during pregnancy. You should no longer have anymore hesitation whenever your doctor brings up the topic during conversation!
Nonetheless if you were oppose to receiving this treatment due to your own personal philosophy, we would highly encourage you to consider a fluoride alternative such as hydroxyapatite toothpaste. That has been proven to have the capability of not only stopping but also reversing small cavities.