Get a Handle on Brushing
Just as you did in your pre-pregnancy days, you should brush your teeth two to three times daily with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Dentists recommend soft-headed toothbrushes over hard or medium ones because their pliable bristles can reach under the gumline to sweep away plaque and bacteria. Brush for at least two minutes, hitting all areas of your mouth; don't forget your tongue. "If toothpaste makes you queasy, it's okay to brush without it," says Season Rose, D.M.D., a dentist in Allentown, Pennsylvania. "The act of brushing is better than nothing." (Psst, Dr. Rose told us even she skipped the paste when she was preggo.)
Don't Forget to Floss
Even good brushers sometimes slack off when it comes to flossing, but you need to do it every day, particularly when you're pregnant, says Casey Cook, D.M.D., a dentist in Somerville, Massachusetts. If your gums are sensitive and bleeding, try a waxed floss, which is generally easier to use, Dr. Cook says. Flossing will help reduce the inflammation that's causing sensitivity and bleeding. What merits a call to the dentist? If a tooth feels loose, the bleeding doesn't stop after a few rinses, or your gums are still very tender after flossing religiously for three weeks, check in with her.
Give Your Teeth a Good Rinse!
Because bacteria pose a greater threat during pregnancy, gargling with an antimicrobial mouthwash is a smart idea (especially if you cut your brushing sessions short because they make you gag). If your mouth tends to be dry (which sometimes happens in pregnancy for reasons that aren't clear), pick a product that doesn't contain alcohol. It makes dry mouth worse, Dr. Rose says.