As an expectant mother, the best thing you can do for your child is maintain your own dental health. Many women are unaware that there is a close link between your oral health and your general health. We welcome you to contact Just Kidz Dentistry to meet with our dentist, Dr. Christa Spates, and learn more about this link and how you can help your child begin their life with good oral health.
Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is connected to a number of medical problems, including pregnancy complications. Expectant mothers with gum disease have an increased risk of delivering premature and low birthweight babies.
During pregnancy, your hormone levels rise significantly, which increases your risk of developing gingivitis. Gingivitis is especially common between the second and eighth months of pregnancy. You may also experience overgrowth of gum tissue during your second trimester. If you notice changes in your mouth or the symptoms of gum disease, please contact your dentist as soon as possible to receive treatment.
Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red and swollen gums
- Easy bleeding and tenderness of the gums
- Gum recession
- Loose or separating teeth
- Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
- Sores in the mouth
- Changes in the fit of your bite or any removable appliances you use
Maintaining Good Oral Health During Pregnancy
We recommend that you eat a balanced diet, and that you avoid starchy and sugary snacks between meals. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet will provide you with the calcium, phosphorous, vitamins and minerals needed to ensure that your baby’s teeth and bones develop properly.
We also strongly advise that you maintain a good oral hygiene routine at home and keep all your regular dental appointments. Flossing daily and brushing at least twice a day, in combination with routine cleanings and exams, will help you avoid developing periodontal disease and keep both you and your baby healthier. You may also consider asking for a fluoride treatment or other preventive treatments to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Finally, you should visit your dentist for a thorough dental examination and evaluation as soon as you know you are pregnant to determine if any additional care is necessary.
Infant Oral Health
You should clean your baby’s teeth daily. Initially, use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe their gums. This will remove any lingering formula or milk and prevent bacteria from building up.
Your child’s teeth will begin to erupt at about six months of age and continue to do so until around age three. Some children’s teeth begin to erupt sooner, and some begin to erupt later. As soon as teeth appear, begin to brush your child’s teeth using a soft-bristle baby toothbrush and a tiny smear of child-safe toothpaste. After the age of two, begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Begin flossing as soon as there are two adjacent teeth.
Brush and floss your child’s teeth for them until about age seven. By this age, they will have developed enough motor skills to brush on their own.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that you bring your child to meet with a pediatric dentist when their first tooth erupts, or by age one. Dr. Christa Spates will be able to provide you with information and guidance to help your child grow and develop properly and keep their mouth healthy.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
As your child’s teeth develop and begin to erupt, you should take care to avoid giving them bottles filled with sweetened liquids whenever they go to bed. When sugars, such as those contained in juice, baby formula or breast milk, are allowed to remain in the mouth, they contribute to a condition known as baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay can also occur when parents and children share forks or spoons and the parent’s saliva transfers from their mouth to the baby’s mouth.
Here are a few ways you can prevent baby bottle tooth decay:
- Rinse pacifiers and toys in clean water, not in your own mouth
- Do not share spoons or forks with your child
- Do not place sugary drinks in baby bottles or sippy cups
- Do not dip pacifiers in honey or sweetened liquids
- If your child keeps a bottle with them in bed, make sure it is filled only with water
- Help your child use a regular cup after 12 months of age
- Help your child eat a balanced and nutritious diet
- Keep your child’s teeth clean
- Ask our dentist to review your child’s fluoride levels and provide any needed preventive treatments
If you have any questions about pregnancy and oral health, or about early infant dental care in Peoria and Washington, Illinois, please feel free to contact our office. Our caring dentist and team are here to help you!