Even though women tend to have healthier habits and visit the dentist more than men, women — particularly those who are expecting — are prone to oral health risks. Here’s the best toothpaste for pregnancy (plus other products too!).
Worst during the first trimester
Try: Toothpaste without sodium laurel sulfate; chewing gum with xylitol
The roller coaster ride of hormonal changes during pregnancy causes your saliva to change. A dirt-lifting ingredient commonly found in toothpaste, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), can further dry out an already parched palate. Purchase a paste that’s SLS-free and take frequent sips of water throughout the day. To stimulate saliva, try chewing a sugar-free gum that contains xylitol. The act of chewing keeps your mouth moist, while the xylitol helps ward off bacteria.
Spikes during pregnancy; subsides after delivery
Try: Phenol-based ointment
More annoying than the kind you get from poor-fitting shoes, fever blisters affect an estimated half or more of Americans. Also known as cold sores, they are caused by a contagious virus called herpes simplex. Many women notice an outbreak during pregnancy. This has less to do with hormones and more to do with stress.
While there’s no “cure” for cold sores, a phenol-based ointment can help. The ingredient numbs the pain of the cold sore, while protecting the surface of the sore from irritation. Pregnant or not, cold sore frequency subsides after age 35.
Worst during the second trimester
Try: Toothpaste or gel containing benzocaine
Changes in hormones—like those experienced during pregnancy—can cause gums to become tender and sometimes bleed. Consider scheduling a dental visit to ensure your inflammation is not cause for concern.
In the meantime, ease the pain with a paste or gel containing no more than 20% benzocaine. Benzocaine is a temporary numbing agent for oral irritations. And finally, use a soft bristled toothbrush for a more gentle scrub.
You’ll soon be taking care of another human being, but make sure you take time to care for your dental health.