Healthy smiles in pregnancy and infancy

Pregnancy is such an exciting time! As an expectant mother prepares for the birth of her child, she considers how her choices impact her unborn baby. While there are many important considerations to make, good dental habits not only help you prevent problems during your pregnancy – they can also affect the health of your unborn child.

Nutrition

Your nutrition can directly affect the development of your child’s teeth. What you eat during the nine months of pregnancy affects the development of your unborn child – including their teeth. Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, so it is especially important to receive sufficient amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and Vitamins A, C, and D.

Dental health and potential complications

During pregnancy, your body’s hormone levels rise considerably. This may result in red, puffy, or tender gums that tend to bleed when you brush your teeth. Be sure to contact your dentist if you are concerned. S/he may recommend more frequent cleanings during your second trimester or early third trimester to help you avoid problems.

Studies indicate that pregnant women who have periodontal (gum) disease may be at increased risk for pre-term delivery, which in turn increases risk of having a low-birthweight baby. Continue to see your dentist regularly for oral exams and professional teeth cleaning. Be sure to inform your dentist that you are pregnant (or are planning to become pregnant soon).

After baby’s birth

Baby’s here! Yay! After getting accustomed to numerous feedings, changings, and attempts at catching naptime (!), and as you settle into a new routine, include wiping baby’s gums in your routine. A damp washcloth or wet piece of soft gauze will wipe away any sugars left behind after each feeding.

Your baby’s first set of teeth – the primary or “baby” teeth – will begin to erupt about six months after birth. Unfortunately, these little pearly whites are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth. Schedule your child’s first pediatric dentist appointment after the first tooth pokes through (and no later than the child’s first birthday). Studies show that children who visit a dentist by age one have 3.5 fewer cavities.

Moreover, strong, healthy primary teeth help your child to chew food, learn to speak clearly, and give your child’s face it’s shape and form.

Your child’s first dentist appointment

Consider your child’s first dentist appointment a “well-baby check-up” for their teeth. You will discuss feeding habits, care of teeth, and any concerns you may have. The appointment will include a cleaning while your child is in your lap. A pediatric dentist will examine your child’s teeth and mouth.  

In addition to the valuable conversation regarding diet, habits, and prevention of decay, early dental appointments also help establish a positive relationship between your child and their dentist! This rapport may set the stage for a lifetime of good dental habits!

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