Dr Preece, Church & Associates

What You Should Know About Your Baby’s Growing Smile During Pregnancy and After Birth

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If you are expecting, congratulations! Motherhood is an amazing time, and you will want to take especially good care of your teeth and gums because of the new hormonal changes in your body. It is not just for your smile protection either; these hormones put you at higher risk of gum disease, which can impact your growing baby. Severe gum disease can be connected to low birth-weight babies and premature births.

Your baby’s teeth develop while you are growing your baby. It is why following a healthy diet and taking prenatal vitamins are good for both of you. Watch out for sugary snacks and know that snacking in general increases your odds of risking tooth decay. Did you know that your baby’s first teeth start forming around three months into pregnancy? A prenatal diet rich in dairy products (like cheese and yogurt) supplies essential minerals that are good for your baby’s growing teeth, gums, and bones.

Pregnancy-Related Oral Health Problems

  • Periodontitis is gum disease from the hormones reacting to the harmful bacteria in your gums. It can leave you with red, swollen gums, and left untreated, it can cause the bone supporting the teeth to be lost, the teeth to loosen, and potentially require extraction.
  • Increased cavity formation from behavioral changes (like higher levels of oral acidity) from morning sickness, vomiting and frequent snacking. Mothers who have untreated cavity-causing bacteria during pregnancy and post-delivery can pass these oral bacteria on to their baby, which can grow and lead to extensive dental problems later.
  • Tooth enamel erosion from morning sickness (you can combat this by rinsing with a solution of one cup of water with one teaspoon of baking soda which effectively neutralizes acidity).
  • Seek proper dental care during pregnancy and let your dentist know you are expecting. Dental X-rays, checkups, and cleanings are safe and help prevent periodontal disease and avoid pregnancy gingivitis. In fact, professional dental cleaning is especially vital now.
  • According to The Journal of the American Dental Association, Avoiding gum disease during pregnancy helps prevent premature birth. Pregnant moms experiencing ongoing, untreated gum disease are at greater risk of premature birth (before week 37) to underweight babies. Think of dental care to prevent cavities and gum disease as part of your prenatal care since poor oral health while pregnant can result in poor health for both mom and baby.

Baby’s Dental Health

Your baby depends on your consistent, daily oral hygiene care. Start their dental care early by cleaning your infant’s smile using a clean damp washcloth to wipe away harmful oral bacteria and milky residue. Do not put your baby in bed with a bottle or sippy cup with milk, formula, juice, or other sweet drinks. The only thing they should be allowed to sleep with is water, and giving your little one a bottle or sippy cup with plain water can help them fall asleep if needed.

Whether your baby is on formula or breastmilk, you want to clean their miniature chompers using a clean, moistened washcloth when they fall asleep. Keep harmful oral bacteria away by not sharing utensils, binkies, toothbrushes and toys that baby inevitably sticks in their mouth. Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day once their first tooth erupts. A tiny toothbrush head with soft bristles is ideal for babies. As your toddler develops, you can use fluoridated toothpaste when they can spit it out after cleaning (typically around age 3).

You will want to bring your baby in for their first checkup between six and twelve months. Our pediatric dentist is happy to check for any potential problems early and show you how to effectively clean your child’s teeth. Our pediatric dental team can also assess habits like thumbsucking, and we look forward to helping your baby’s smile grow into a healthy, beautiful grin!