Expectant mothers have many special considerations – what to eat (and what not to eat), which medications to avoid and which supplements to take, etc. While many women are well-versed on when they should see their obstetrician, some may have neglected to see their dentist during pregnancy.
And, once baby is born, moms are again well-versed on when to take baby to see their pediatrician. But when should baby first see a dentist?
Read on for oral health tips from pregnancy through baby’s first year.
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.