There are a lot of things you can’t do while you’re pregnant such as whitening your teeth. But are there other things that are forbidden for your oral health as well? What about mouthwash, are expecting mothers allowed to use one and if they are, are there any exceptions?
In addition to brushing and flossing, using a mouth rinse is a part of the trifecta for keeping your mouth healthy. Does that all change once you get pregnant?
Our purpose here today is to let you know if you can use one and whether or not it is safe to do so. We’ll also give you our recommendations for what you should do and alternatives in case you don’t like what we have to say.
Can you use mouthwash while pregnant?
You certainly can use a mouthwash while you’re pregnant and you’re encouraged to do so by the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Although the reason why the ACOG wants you to use a mouthwash is different from what you may have had in mind. Their concern isn’t so much about gum disease and gingivitis but rather with enamel erosion from morning sickness.
It is quite common for pregnant women to experience morning sickness and end up vomiting. All of that vomit contains a lot of stomach acids that can potentially erode away all of your enamel if it is not neutralized properly. Of course one or two instances won’t damage your teeth but pregnancy lasts approximately nine months and that can end up messing up your teeth.
In order to protect your teeth from acid erosion, the ACOG’s guideline for oral health care during pregnancy recommends using a baking soda solution as a mouthwash. Since baking soda is made of sodium bicarbonate, it is alkaline in nature and that makes it the perfect choice for neutralizing the stomach acids.
How to use baking soda to neutralize morning sickness acid
The ACOG recommends using this mouth rinse every time after you vomit so that you can protect your enamel.
- Fill one cup of water.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Stir the mixture lightly.
- Rinse for about 60 seconds.
- Spit out.
If you don’t neutralize the acid, it will slowly start to erode away your enamel. You’ll notice it starts to become thinner over time and consequently the teeth will start to look more yellow. The reason for the yellowing is because when the enamel thins out, you’re left with the dentin layer which is naturally darker. The dentin will start showing through if you lose enough enamel.
Is mouthwash safe to use during pregnancy?
Despite the ACOG only specifically mentioning using baking soda as a mouth rinse, they do allude to the fact that other mouthwashes are safe to use. These were the exact words in their guideline:
Dental providers often recommend the use of chlorhexidine and fluoridated mouth rinses, and xylitol-containing chewing gum to decrease oral bacteria. No adverse effects have been reported with these products during pregnancy but they have not been studied extensively.– ACOG
Basically what they’re saying is that they’ve yet to find any evidence of harmful effects from using a mouthwash during pregnancy. Nonetheless, they did leave a disclaimer at the end by saying that there has also not been a lot of studies done on it. Perhaps there has been no reason to dive deeper into the subject since there haven’t been any case reports of ill side effects from using mouthwashes.
Well, there you have it. Feel free to use whatever mouthwash you want since nothing bad has ever happened to a pregnant woman while doing so.
Here are examples of some common mouthwashes:
- Act fluoride rinse
- Hydrogen peroxide
In our opinion, we prefer the non-alcoholic mouthwashes since they’re more gentle. They don’t burn your mouth like the alcoholic ones do. Of course, if you like that type of burn then be our guest in using it. In case you were wondering, it is safe to gargle with hydrogen peroxide while you’re pregnant.
Alternative mouth rinses that you can use
We understand that there has been a recent trend in favoring natural organic mouth rinses. Some expecting mothers may not like the big branded rinses that were listed in the previous section. They may prefer something a little more natural and that is okay.
Here are some natural mouth rinses that pregnant women can use:
- Salt water rinse
- Oregano oil rinse
- Clove oil rinse
- Oil pulling
- Or any essential oil rinses
You may be surprised but using any type of mouthwash even just plain water can be beneficial for your oral health. The simple act of using a rinse will wash away any food that may be stuck to your teeth. They’ll also help buffer the oral environment to bring it back to neutral from any residual acids that may have been left over from your meal.
For instance, if you’re experiencing morning sickness you should definitely rinse your mouth out with something after vomiting. It doesn’t have to be baking soda but any type of liquid will be more beneficial than using nothing. However, the baking soda may just be more effective since it is naturally alkaline and neutralizes acid all on its own.
The Verdict – Mouthwash while pregnant, yea or nay?
Mouthwash is safe to use while you’re pregnant because no adverse effects have ever been recorded in history. In fact, pregnant women should be more cognizant of using a baking soda mouth rinse since morning sickness and vomiting is a common side effect. The sodium bicarbonate is wonderful at neutralizing stomach acids and thus will protect your enamel from being eroded.
Aside from the possibility of morning sickness ruining your teeth, it is also helpful in using a rinse routinely because it does improve overall gum health. Pregnant women are prone to getting a form of gingivitis called pregnancy gingivitis. That is exacerbated by the elevated hormones during pregnancy. Usually what helps is by increasing the frequency of brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
Therefore it is always beneficial to add in activities which will keep your teeth and gums healthier. It also helps a lot if you remember to go in for your 6 month dental check up and cleanings even while you’re pregnant. It is recommended by the ACOG!