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Bad Breath During Pregnancy

By Meghanien Dutta ; Updated August 14, 2017

Pregnancy is a time you need to take good care of your health, especially oral health. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) pregnant women who have severe gum disease may be at higher risk for pre-term delivery, which in turn increases the risk of having a low-birth weight baby. Many changes happen to your body during pregnancy, including deterioration of dental health.

Hormonal Play

Changes in the levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy cause an increase in plaque production on your teeth. Since plaque contains bacteria that produce sulfur, it emits a bad odor. Pregnancy often causes food cravings and constant snacking, which adds up to the production of plaque, says Ada Cooper, D.D.S., ADA consumer adviser and a general dentist in New York. Excessive plaque can cause gum disease (gingivitis), which could lead to periodontal diseases or infections of deeper gum tissues producing odor-emitting bacteria.


Lack of hydration, which is common when you are pregnant, is another cause of bad breath. Your body works harder to support the growing fetus, which includes additional hydration. Dehydration causes dry mouth and bad breath. According to, saliva washes away odor-emitting sulfur compounds along with food particles and dead skin that bacteria feed upon. Bacteria do not breed well in oxygen-rich surroundings; therefore, saliva is an effective bad breath controller as it is rich in oxygen.

Morning Sickness Malady

Vomiting due to morning sickness is another cause of bad breath in pregnant women. According to the website, the foul smell of stomach acids and partially digested food that is expelled through your mouth tend to remain inside causing your breath to stink. In this situation, rinsing your mouth to get rid of particles is better than brushing your teeth. Stomach acid softens the tooth enamel and brushing immediately may remove it, leaving your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay. Tooth decay is yet another reason for bad breath.

Digestion Dilemma

With a slower digestive system, you might have an accumulation of gas in the stomach when pregnant. Though short term, this is another reason for sour smelling breath while burping.

Home Remedies

Since taking antibiotics is not a good option as it can affect your fetus, consider home remedies to treat bad breath that stems from oral health problems. Consider rinses with salt water or fresh lemon juice or diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide and water.

Doctor Visit

Ideally you should have dental checkups every six months before you become pregnant. In case you have not had prior dental checkups and are pregnant, take a complete oral exam during the early stages. In case you need dental treatment, the best time is between weeks 14 and 20. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises pregnant women not to skip any dental treatments, as it could risk the mother's and baby's health.

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