PERINATAL AND INFANT ORAL HEALTH
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that all pregnant women receive counsel concerning oral health care during pregnancy. Periodontal disease can increase the chance of preterm birth and the likelihood of low birth weight. If you are expecting, make sure to talk to your doctor or dentist about periodontal disease prevention.
Did you know that mothers with poor oral health may be able to pass on cavity-causing bacteria to their babies? If you are pregnant, keep these tips in mind to ensure the greatest possibility of oral health for your child:
Visit your dentist regularly
Brush your teeth and use floss every day to reduce plaque.
Reduce your sugar intake in the foods and beverages you consume
Use fluoride toothpaste recommended by the ADA and a mouth rinse with .05% sodium fluoride.
Refrain from sharing cups, utensils, and food as this may cause the transmission of bacteria.
Ask your dentist about xylitol chewing gum, (4 pieces per day by the mother) which can also aid in bacterial transmission from mother to child.
YOUR CHILD’S FIRST DENTAL VISIT—ESTABLISHING A “DENTAL HOME”
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry both recommend establishing a “dental home” for your child by one year of age. Children with regular, stable access to dental care are more likely to avoid preventable conditions that can lead to greater problems.
Talk to your child before his or her visit, but keep things simple. When discussing dental procedures, avoid using words like “drill,” “needle,” “shot,” or “hurt”. Pediatric dentists train their teams to use other non-threatening terms that convey the same meaning, but in a much more pleasant manner to make your child feel comfortable.
WHEN WILL MY BABY START GETTING TEETH?
Every child is different and will begin showing signs of teething at different times. Generally, a baby’s first primary teeth (usually the lower front (anterior) teeth) appear between 6-8 months.
BABY BOTTLE TOOTH DECAY (EARLY CHILDHOOD CARIES)
Babies and young children can develop significant tooth decay at an early age from long exposures to liquids containing sugar. Oftentimes, the child is put down for a nap or for the night with a bottle full of fruit juice, milk, (even breast milk) or another sweetened drink, exposing the teeth to sugar for a prolonged period of time.
Only give a child water in a bottle when falling asleep. Sugary liquid accumulates in a child’s mouth overnight, forming plaque rapidly and causing tooth decay. If you are giving your child a beverage other than water, try diluting it over a period of days or weeks to transition your child gradually to water-only.
Another preventative method for tooth decay in infants and young children is to wipe the child’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad after each feeding. This prevents plaque from building up and can be done quickly and easily with your child’s head in your lap, on the floor, or on a changing table.
As with baby bottles, sippy cups filled with beverages containing sugar (breast milk, milk, juice, etc.) and given to a child during nap or bedtime can seriously increase the risk of tooth decay. If your child requires a sippy cup or bottle at bedtime, make sure it contains water only.