Every expectant parent wants to give their child a good start in life. You spend time planning their earliest days, stocking up on all the most important child care supplies, learn all about keeping them healthy, and find the best doctors to care for them. But what about their oral health?
Pregnant women are often surprised to learn that the future of their child’s oral health starts before they’re even born. The things you do now could have an effect on your child for years into the future, but as an expectant parent you’re sure to want to do the right things to ensure it’s a good effect!
How A Mother’s Smile Affects Their Child
It’s a simple fact of pregnancy: women with poor oral health are at a greater risk of premature birth and underweight babies. Taking care of your smile might not seem like a priority while you’re pregnant, but your oral health translates directly to your child’s oral (and overall) health.
Pregnant women get gum disease at such a high rate that it has even earned its own name: pregnancy gingivitis. The chances in your body that happen during pregnancy trigger a number of different health effects, with increased gum disease risk being just one of them.
If you end up suffering from pregnancy gingivitis a lot of the bacteria that’s wreaking havoc in your mouth will be passed to your baby, which greatly increases their chances of developing cavities and gum disease during their lives. Anything that enters your bloodstream (like oral bacteria) is passed on to your child, so be sure you’re keeping your gums in good shape!
How To Protect Your Smile When You’re Pregnant
With oral bacteria creating such a risk for your unborn child you need to do everything you can to keep your teeth healthy before, and during, pregnancy. Keep in mind that an increased risk of gum disease is not a guarantee that you’ll develop it, only that conditions are right for it to happen more easily.
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure you maintain a healthy mouth while pregnant, and all of them are essential.
- Make sure you inform our team that you’re expecting a new child. We’ll want to keep on top of your oral health all through your pregnancy so we can detect and treat any problems as early as possible. You’re going to be seeing us a lot more often than just twice a year when you’re pregnant!
- If you’re suffering from severe bouts of morning sickness you need to be extra careful with your teeth – stomach acids can erode your enamel and increase your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. Because it’s important to keep your teeth clean despite feeling ill we recommend switching to a low-flavored or flavorless toothpaste. Sometimes minty flavored toothpastes can just make morning sickness worse. Be sure you’re also rinsing your mouth out immediately after vomiting – you need to get those acids off your teeth right away!
- Your home oral care habits have never been more important than they are now. Be sure you’re brushing twice a day, and never skip your evening flossing. It only takes oral bacteria 24 hours to irritate your gums, so if you’re skipping flossing days you’re just inviting oral health problems!
- Your diet as most assuredly changed, but there are still things you need to be sure you’re getting plenty of. In this case we’re talking about calcium and vitamin D, both of which contribute to healthy teeth and bones. This will not only help promote good oral health but also help your baby grow up strong.
Keeping Your Child’s Mouth Clean
You don’t really need to take your child to a pediatric dentist until they’re about a year old, but there’s still a lot you need to be doing before that first appointment.
- Be sure you’re wiping their gums down with a soft cloth twice a day. Not only does this limit bacteria growth, but it also gets them used to the act of cleaning their teeth early.
- Once teeth have started erupting be sure you’re brushing them with a small soft-bristled brush.
- Wean your child off their bottle by 12 or 14 months – longer than that and they can start developing bottle cavities.
- Help your child brush their teeth, and once they’re able to start doing it themselves make it a group activity – this can promote good habits.
Good Oral Health Starts NOW
We know you want to do what’s best for your children, so don’t wait another day to be sure your oral health is the best it can be. Call our Orlando office today to schedule a prenatal dental exam! You can reach us at 407-603-3839 or you can request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you and your entire family!