The moment you become pregnant is the moment that your child’s oral health becomes a concern. It comes as a surprise to many expecting parents that their child’s teeth and gums are affected by almost every little thing that happens to their mother during pregnancy, but it’s true. If you’re a woman who’s expecting a child your oral health will have serious effects on your newborn!
At Pioneer Dental Group we take prenatal dentistry seriously. Pregnant women face a lot of oral health risks, and if risks become complications those complications are usually passed on to their children. Knowing what could go wrong with your mouth during pregnancy and how to prevent it is just as important to your child’s health as eating well!
How Pregnancy Changes Your Mouth
It’s a well known fact that pregnant women are at greater risk for gum disease. The hormonal changes in your body make your mouth a fertile ground for oral bacteria, and for many women the result is “pregnancy gingivitis.”
While no different than typical infections, pregnancy gingivitis has side effects that make it far more serious. Women who develop gingivitis while pregnant have higher rates of premature and underweight births, both which can endanger the life of a newborn.
Research that studies the mouths of expectant mothers and those of their newborns have found another surprising connection: oral bacteria in the mother’s mouth can be passed to the child. If you have an excessive amount of oral bacteria because of gingivitis your child will have greater amounts, and more deadly strains, in their mouths from the moment they’re born.
The oral bacteria you have at birth is with you for life. If your child is born with harmful strains there’s a greater chance that they’ll suffer from tooth decay and gum disease in their lives – not something you want to give them as a birthday gift!
How To Prevent Dental Complications In Newborns
If you want to pass a healthy mouth onto your child you need to start focusing on their care the moment you realize you’re pregnant. Cleanings and exams should be performed more frequently for pregnant women because of increased risks. While you may not normally see the dentist more than once in nine months you’ll need to see us at least a couple of times while you’re pregnant!
You also need to be incredibly disciplined about your home oral care. Make sure you’re flossing every night and brushing your teeth at least twice a day. You can’t afford to give plaque bacteria the slightest edge while you’re expecting a child.
Once your baby is born you need to adopt some oral hygiene routines for them as well. Studies have shown that children exposed to dental care early in their lives have much better habits as they grow up. These habits start to form before they can even hold a toothbrush!
- Take time to massage your child’s gums with a finger, washcloth, or rubber toothbrush as soon as they’re born. Not only does this stimulate the gum tissue and promote health, but it also gets them used to having something in their mouth.
- When your child’s teeth first come in you should wipe them clean of plaque at least twice a day. If you keep their teeth clean there will be less bacteria to do damage, and you’re further instilling good habits.
- Once your child has grown into more baby teeth you can start brushing their mouth with a small-headed toothbrush. If you’ve been good about massaging and wiping their mouth they shouldn’t be too fussy about brushing.
- By the time your child is seven or eight years old they should be able to brush their teeth without assistance. Make sure you supervise their oral care so you can be sure they’re doing it right, but let them gain that bit of independence.
Oral Care During Pregnancy: When To Start Thinking About It
The best possible way to be sure your mouth is ready for pregnancy is to keep up with a regular cleaning and exam schedule. If we see you every six months at our Oregon City office you’ll know whether or not you need to make special considerations before planning a family.
We want to help you and your child have great oral health from the very first day of their life. Give us a call to schedule a preventive appointment today!