Q&A With Dr Emma
Hi Dr Emma. Is it safe to use mouthwash during pregnancy? My friends have varying opinions so I'm still unsure if there are any risks involved. Is there anything else I should avoid too, particular types of toothpaste etc? Thank you. Cathy from Coogee, NSW.
There are a huge number of different mouthwashes on the market which all contain different active ingredients, so answering your question is a little bit tricky. Just off the top of my head I can think of eleven different types which all contain different chemicals. If you really want to use a mouthwash, then talk to your pharmacist about which one will suit you and will be safe for use during pregnancy. Only a very tiny amount will be absorbed into your body through the soft tissues of your mouth, but it's better to be sure. There are some on the market which have been proven safe, and some that have unknown risks for pregnant women.
Something to consider is whether or not you really need to be using a mouthwash at all. If you can do a good job of brushing and flossing, and don't have any disease in your mouth, then you probably don't need to rinse with anything. For someone with good oral hygiene, there is very little benefit to routinely using a mouthwash. If you have a specific problem like periodontitis, recurrent ulcers, high tooth decay risk, or a dry mouth, you may benefit from using a mouthwash each day. Your dentist will be able to help you make a decision by weighing up the benefit of using the mouthwash with any potential risk to your general health, or the health of the little bean you're busily growing.
As far as toothpaste goes, there is no good evidence to suggest that normal use of a fluoridated toothpaste is unsafe during pregnancy. Fluoride does carry risks when ingested, which is why we spit toothpaste out. The tiny amount absorbed during brushing is safe, but eating the whole tube is not, so make sure you don't swallow excessive amounts. Remember that the best thing you can do for your baby is to keep your body free of oral disease and infection. If you've got a good oral hygiene routine that is keeping your mouth healthy, stick with it!