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Understanding Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Care

When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s an exciting discovery. As exciting as it is, it’s time to start thinking about your child’s oral health. Oral health is just as crucial for young children as their overall health. The term “perinatal” describes the second and third trimesters and about a month after delivery. There are many ways to prepare yourself for the delivery of your child, and dental checkups are probably the last thing on your mind.

However, research shows a connection between periodontal disease in the mother and premature babies, children born with low birth weight, maternal preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. The mother must maintain her oral hygiene throughout her pregnancy.

The Importance of Perinatal Dental Checkups

Cariogenic bacteria, the bacteria that causes cavities, is connected with multiple adverse outcomes for babies and children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, or AAPD, suggests that mothers get regular checkups and counseling. The AAPD suggests these checkups to prevent, intervene, and treat oral issues.

How will I care for my child’s teeth while pregnant?

  • Brush and floss – Twice a day, use ADA-approved toothpaste and floss daily. This practice can help eliminate harmful bacteria when brushing and flossing with an alcohol-free mouthwash. 
  • Chew gum – One of the sweeteners in chewing gum, Xylitol, has been proven to reduce infant and toddler cavities when the mother regularly chews gum while pregnant. When choosing a brand, look for “xylitol” on gum packaging. So far, no other artificial sweeteners have been beneficial.
  • Proper Diet – Overall health, infant health, and a smooth pregnancy are only a few reasons a proper diet is essential. Keeping a “food diary” and cutting back on sugary or starchy foods also help your child’s oral health. 
  • Dental Checkup Scheduling – When you visit your dentist regularly, they can provide ways to boost your preventative efforts at home. Your dentist can check your oral condition and provide strategies for limiting the bacteria that can cause cavities.

It isn’t common knowledge that cariogenic bacteria is passed from the mother to the child. Some of the most prominent transmissions are sharing utensils and cleaning pacifiers using the parent’s mouth. Using different utensils than your child and rinsing pacifiers in warm water are good ways to combat the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria. 

What are other ways to encourage a child’s oral health? Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a sliver of non-fluoridated toothpaste is one way. Make sure to brush your child’s teeth twice daily. As soon as your child has two teeth that are connected, cavities can start to form. Before flossing your child’s teeth, consult your pediatric dentist. Pacifiers are beautiful tools to soothe your baby. Choose an orthodontically correct model and avoid dipping it in honey or sugary water. Refrain from using bottles or sippy cups for extended periods, and schedule regular appointments with your child’s dentist.

What Can my Pediatric Dentist do?

Your pediatric dentist can help ensure you take the correct steps to encourage your child’s oral health. Your dentist can handle potential emergencies concerning your child’s teeth or mouth. Establishing a relationship with your pediatric dentist will encourage your child’s oral health for a lifetime.

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