Pregnancy is an exciting time of your life that unfortunately has a tendency to come with some less than exciting side effects. Aside from common complaints like morning sickness, fatigue and mood swings, there is a strong link between pregnancy and bad breath. Since bad breath usually comes from the mouth, it is even more important than usual to take care of your teeth and see your dentist for thorough cleaning and check-ups during this time. The good news is that with proper oral hygiene and an effective mouthwash, bad breath is a byproduct of pregnancy that can be prevented.
The hormonal roller-coaster that comes with pregnancy can turn your mouth into the perfect breeding ground for plaque, a thin film of bacteria that produce VSCs (volatile sulfur compounds) when they break down food particles between your teeth. These VSCs are perceived as bad breath. If the bacteria are left to fester, the plaque can lead to pregnancy gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. The plaque production is fueled by two hallmarks of pregnancy: food cravings and frequent snacking. To make matters worse, hormones and dehydration during pregnancy can affect your saliva levels and cause dry mouth. This can in turn make it easier for bacteria to colonize. Morning sickness can hurt your breath too, as the smell of stomach acids and partially digested food tends to linger in your mouth.
Whether you are pregnant or not, fresh breath starts with good oral hygiene. Have your teeth cleaned professionally every six months and check with your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any concerns about your breath and oral health. If you suffer from morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water after you have thrown up to rinse out lingering bacteria. You may also want to limit foods and drinks that cause bad breath during your pregnancy, for example garlic, onions, spicy foods, coffee and sugary drinks.