Oral Health & Pregnancy: Get the Facts!
February 12th, 2014
by Patrice Pascual
Executive Director, Children’s Dental Health Project
Congratulations, mom-to-be! While it may be far from your mind right now, this is a very important time to think about the health of your teeth and mouth, and the impact it may have on the health of your new baby.
Going to the dentist while you are pregnant is safe. And you may need extra attention to your oral health during this time. Unfortunately, hormone levels due to pregnancy may increase your risk of dental problems. Talk to your health provider, or they may ask you whether you have any dental problems. Seeing a dentist for a check-up or to treat existing dental conditions is important.
If you do have oral health problems during pregnancy, you’re not alone. In fact, approximately 40% of pregnant women have some form of gum disease or tooth decay. If left untreated, these issues can have real consequences. Serious, untreated oral infections during pregnancy can lead to problems with your overall health and your baby’s, including increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Untreated oral health conditions during pregnancy may also put your child at higher risk for dental problems later in life.
The Children’s Dental Health Project is trying to get the word out that your mouth matters — for your health and your baby’s. We are joined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which has advised doctors that “women should routinely be counseled about the maintenance of good oral health as well as the safety and importance of oral health care during pregnancy.”
What about your new baby? The old wives tale about “soft teeth” isn’t totally false. There is a connection between a mom’s and a child’s teeth. The connection is a bacteria that can be passed between you and your baby that may make it easier for your child to get cavities.
Here are a few tips can help to reduce the chance that your child has to deal with cavities early in life.
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle unless it is water.
- Wipe your baby’s mouth with a clean wet wash cloth after each feeding.
- Clean your baby’s pacifier with water, not by licking it clean in your mouth.
- Do not share cups, utensils, or food to avoid passing cavity-causing bacteria to your baby.
- Both mom and your future “solid food-eater” should limit sweets and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Baby’s first dental visit should happen earlier than you might think. It is generally recommended that a child be seen by a dentist by the age of one year, or within six months after the first tooth comes in. This visit is usually short and involves very little treatment, but helps to establish a friendly and positive relationship, while checking to be sure the gums and teeth are healthy.
If you want to check out additional resources that we have available on pregnant women and dental health, please find them on our website, here.
Wishing you and your baby loads of health & happiness!