Using Mouthwash in Pregnancy – Risks and Precautionary Tips

Using Mouthwash During Pregnancy – Risks and Precautionary Tips

Are you looking to maintain a harmonious balance between oral health and the miracle of pregnancy? Hormonal changes during pregnancy may bring about oral health problems for some women and increase the risk of miscarriage for them. Along with flossing and brushing your teeth at least twice a day, mouthwash is one of the most effective ways of ensuring oral hygiene. But like with any other thing being used during pregnancy, mouthwash should be used with caution.

Overcoming dilemmas about using mouthwash while pregnant is possible! Explore tailored approaches and trusted resources to ensure optimal oral care, ensuring your well-being and that of your little one. Read more about how to choose pregnancy-friendly mouthwash as a reliable companion on your journey to a vibrant smile.

Is It Safe to Use Mouthwash While Pregnant?

Experts have different opinions about using mouthwash in pregnancy, as most brands contain alcohol. No matter how little, alcohol can pose health problems for the baby during pregnancy, so doctors are against using alcohol-based mouthwash.

Some people think that since mouthwash is not directly ingested during pregnancy, there should be no harm in using mouthwash while pregnant. While some experts consider it safe to use, there is a small chance of it causing harm to the baby; hence it’s best not to use at all.

How to Use Mouthwash While Pregnant?

Mouthwash is best avoided during pregnancy but if you feel you must use one or are recommended to use one due to dental health problems during pregnancy, especially in the second trimester of pregnancy as that’s when most women are more susceptible to dental problems, here are some tips that you should keep in mind before buying one:

  • Consult with your doctor about the mouthwash that is best to use during pregnancy.
  • Ensure that the mouthwash you buy is alcohol-free and made from natural ingredients.
  • Try to use a natural, homemade rinse such as a baking soda and water solution.

Can You Use Fluoride Mouthwash During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is generally considered safe to use fluoride mouthwash during pregnancy. Fluoride is an important mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel of the teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene is particularly important during pregnancy due to hormonal changes that can increase the risk of dental issues such as gum disease and tooth decay.

While there is no direct evidence of harm from using fluoride mouthwash during pregnancy, it is highly advisable to use it in moderation and follow the manufacturer’s or dentist’s instructions. Research also suggests that if pregnant women brush regularly, fluoride-based mouthwashes don’t provide any additional benefit to oral health. 

Additionally, swallowing excessive amounts of fluoride may potentially lead to fluorosis in the developing teeth of the fetus, but this is rare and typically occurs with significantly higher doses than those found in regular mouthwash. To be safe, consult your dentist and gynaecologist before starting any new oral hygiene routine during pregnancy. They will provide personalised guidance based on your pregnancy progress and help you decide on suitable fluoride mouthwash.

Risk of Using Alcohol and Fluoride Mouthwash During Pregnancy

Since using a mouthwash with alcohol can cause problems with the baby’s cognitive development later in life and even cause birth defects if ingested, dentists recommend using a fluoridated, alcohol-free mouthwash during pregnancy. Some even suggest a fluoride rinse before bed to prevent plaque and keep gum problems at bay.

Which Mouthwash Is Good to Use in Pregnancy?

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential during pregnancy to prevent dental issues arising from hormonal changes. While various types of mouthwash are available on the market, choosing one that is safe and beneficial during pregnancy is important. Here are four types of pregnancy safe mouthwash you can consider:

  • Alcohol-free Mouthwash:  Opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash during pregnancy to avoid potential risks associated with alcohol consumption. Alcohol-free mouthwashes are gentle on the gums and can reduce plaque and bacteria without causing dryness or irritation.
  • Fluoride Mouthwash: Choose a fluoride mouthwash to help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. It is important to use fluoride mouthwash in moderation and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid excessive fluoride intake.
  • Antiseptic Mouthwash: Consider using an antiseptic mouthwash to help control gum disease and prevent oral infections during pregnancy.  Look for mouthwashes containing ingredients like chlorhexidine or essential oils (e.g., thymol, eucalyptol, menthol) that have antimicrobial properties.
  • Natural or Herbal Mouthwash: Natural mouthwashes typically contain ingredients, such as plant extracts (e.g., aloe vera, tea tree oil), essential oils, or herbal remedies known for their oral health benefits. These mouthwashes help freshen breath, reduce plaque, and provide a soothing effect on the gums.

Pregnancy-safe mouthwashes should contain the following active ingredients:

  • Fluoride – helps in preventing tooth decay.
  • Peroxide – for teeth whitening 
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride –  a good alternative for high doses or other essential oils like eucalyptus.
  • Chlorhexidine – to prevent plaque and gingivitis.

Precautionary Tips

Pregnancy comes with its own set of impacts on dental health due to various reasons, such as hormonal changes, specific food cravings, frequent vomiting etc. Pregnant women should double-check their oral hygiene to avoid complications, even if it requires using mouthwash on top of regular brushing. Here are some precautionary tips you should take while using mouthwash while pregnant:

  • If you opt for a natural mouthwash, don’t pick one with Eucalyptus oil. A mouthwash with eucalyptus oil may not be safe for the baby’s health. Most experts are unsure about the safety of using a mouthwash containing this oil for children and foetuses, so it’s best avoided.
  • If you use a rinse before bed, ensure you do not eat or drink anything after you have rinsed your mouth to avoid reducing its effectiveness.
  • If you use a rinse during the day, make sure that you do not eat or drink anything for at least half an hour after.
  • Be careful not to swallow mouthwash, especially if it contains alcohol. Speak to your doctor if accidentally, you swallow some.
  • When choosing a natural mouthwash, avoid options that contain eucalyptus oil. The safety of using mouthwashes with eucalyptus oil during pregnancy is questionable, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and choose alternatives. 
  • If you use mouthwash before bedtime, avoid eating or drinking anything afterwards to maximise its effectiveness. This allows the mouthwash to remain in contact with your teeth and gums for longer, providing optimal benefits.
  • After using mouthwash during the day, wait at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything. This allows the active ingredients in the mouthwash to work effectively without being immediately diluted or washed away.

While the use of mouthwash during pregnancy seems to be a debatable topic where some experts think it causes no harm while others believe it is harmful, it is always good to be safe and avoid anything with alcohol. If you have oral problems, see a dentist and make her know that you are pregnant so that she will be able to help you with the right treatment and make good recommendations for mouthwash if required.

References/Resources:

1. Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan; ACOG; https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2013/08/oral-health-care-during-pregnancy-and-through-the-lifespan

2. CAN YOU USE REGULAR MOUTHWASH WHEN PREGNANT?; Breckenridge dental; https://breckdental.com/blog/can-you-use-regular-mouthwash-when-pregnant/; December 2022

3. Hunsrisakhun. J, Talungchit. S, Naorungro. S; Effectiveness of Alcohol-free Mouth Rinse Containing Essential Oils and Fluoride as an Oral Hygiene Adjunct among Pregnant Thai Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7791593/; November 2020

4. Pregnancy and teeth; BetterHealth; https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-teeth

5. Eucalytus globulus; European Medicine Agency; https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/herbal-report/final-assessment-report-eucalytus-globulus-labill-eucalyptus-polybractea-rt-baker/eucalyptus-smithii-rt-baker-aetheroleum_en.pdf; March 2014

6. Mouthrinse (Mouthwash); ADA; https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/mouthrinse-mouthwash

Also Read:

Mouth Ulcers in Pregnancy
Bleeding Gums during Pregnancy
Metallic Taste in Mouth when Pregnant
Home Remedies for Tooth Pain and Bleeding Gums during Pregnancy

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