How to Solve Bad Breath During Pregnancy (& Causes)

There are many reasons a pregnant woman may develop bad breath. (Learn More)

Generally, the issue can be tackled with a relatively thorough oral hygiene routine that is up to the American Dental Association’s standards. Combine this with a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and making sure you get enough calcium, and bad breath will usually go away or at least lessen in severity. (Learn More)

Avoid alcoholic mouthwash during pregnancy. If you are cutting foods that may be giving you bad breath, remember to continue eating a diet that supplies you and your developing fetus with the nutrition you need. (Learn More)

After pregnancy, it takes some time for your body to rebalance itself. Your bad breath should fade if you are maintaining an otherwise good oral hygiene routine and diet.

If your bad breath remains even with a good routine, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. Even if it turns out not to be serious, you should talk with a doctor to make sure you’re safe. They can allow provide you with potential solutions to your breath problem. (Learn More)

doctor and pregnant lady

What Causes Bad Breath During Pregnancy?

Many women who become pregnant begin to struggle with bad breath, also called halitosis. This can be caused by multiple factors, or a combination of those factors, including:

  • Hormonal changes.
  • Dehydration.
  • Morning sickness.
  • An increase in tonsil stones.
  • Calcium deficiency.
  • Lifestyle changes, including unusual diet.
  • Slowed digestion.
  • A medical condition that is exacerbated by the pregnancy.

While it can sometimes signal a more serious issue, halitosis on its own is not dangerous. At the same time, it can be embarrassing. Ultimately, it can be difficult to get rid of halitosis if you cannot figure out the root cause.

There are some obvious causes of bad breath during pregnancy. For example, if you frequently vomit due to morning sickness, that is likely to affect your breath. Or, if you are eating unusual foods that may smell bad or strange, that could be the cause.

If your breath smells especially bad no matter what you do to correct it, or you are experiencing any kind of severe symptoms associated with your pregnancy beyond bad breath, talk to a doctor to make sure nothing is seriously wrong. Assuming halitosis is your only obvious issue, there are a few ways you can tackle bad breath at home.

How to Treat Bad Breath While Pregnant

Many of the ways to tackle bad breath remain largely the same, whether you are pregnant or not.

Since you’re pregnant, you need to avoid any alcohol, including any mouthwash that uses it. You also can’t use any other substance to address bad breath that may harm your fetus.

Make sure to read all instructions on any bad-breath remedies you buy to ensure they are safe to take during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure about what is safe.

To tackle halitosis, try the following:

  • Brush and floss thoroughly. Many people fail to brush for long enough, even if they brush their teeth regularly. You should brush at least twice a day, for two minutes each time.The American Dental Association has released a helpful guide, including video instructions on how to brush correctly.Brushing the tongue can be important in controlling bad breath. Just be careful to do it properly, so you don’t gag on the brush.
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash. While a pregnant woman should always avoid alcohol, there are still many mouthwashes available that are safe to use. Read the instructions, and use the proper dosage.Many mouthwashes merely mask odor. Remember to look for a quality product that actually helps to solve the underlying issue, such as one that kills bacteria that can contribute to bad breath.
  • Stay hydrated. Pregnancy can cause dehydration, which can be an issue as saliva helps to fight bad breath. Drink plenty of fluids. You may want to talk to your doctor about the ideal amount to take in.
  • Avoid snacking after brushing. Some of the work you achieve by brushing can be undone if you follow that brushing with sugary or otherwise unhealthy foods. For best results, brush your teeth after every meal or snack.
  • Remember to take in enough calcium. Pregnancy can lead to calcium deficiency, a problem that can come up in the latter stages of a pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about this potential issue to make sure you get the right amount of calcium. Consider recalcifying toothpaste to protect your teeth.

Some problems may require a more thorough and professional solutions. If you are struggling with a medical condition or something like tonsil stones, talk to a doctor or dentist about the best solution for you.

In some cases, your bad breath cannot be completely eliminated for the duration of your pregnancy. But there are certainly steps to mitigate it.

pregnant woman brushing teeth

Are There Any Risks to Treating Bad Breath?

There is essentially no risk to maintaining a thorough oral hygiene routine. Again, it is just important to avoid alcohol and any other drugs that can affect pregnancy. Besides alcohol, these types of substances are rare in OTC oral hygiene products.

If you are going to adjust your diet to tackle bad breath, make sure you are still eating enough to support you and the developing fetus. An improper diet can affect your health and potentially even lead to complications at birth.

Will My Breath Stay Bad After Pregnancy?

If you didn’t have bad breath before pregnancy, it’s unlikely that you will continue to struggle with it after giving birth. While the problem may persist for a few weeks or months after birth, the body will largely rebalance itself, and the issue should fade over time.

Rarely, bad breath can be a sign of a more serious issue. When the normal methods of tackling bad breath prove ineffective, talk to a doctor to make sure there is no other issue present.

References

Bad Breath in Pregnancy. ultraDEX.

Tuesday Q and A: Self-care Steps May Help Prevent Tonsil Stones from Returning. (October 14, 2014). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).

7 Gross Pregnancy Symptoms I Wish I Had Known About Before Getting Pregnant. (August 1, 2018). What to Expect.

Bad Breath During Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments. (March 27, 2019). Mom Junction.

Brushing Your Teeth. American Dental Association.

Morning Sickness. American Pregnancy Association.

Dehydration During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association.

Diet During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association.

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