10 Dental Tips for Mother and Baby

  • Published
  • By Capt Lana Nysse and MSgt Jane Knight
  • 52nd Medical Group
Dental visits are often overlooked or avoided during pregnancy, most often due to safety concerns of the mothers. However, there is an abundance of evidence indicating the importance of perinatal dental health. The Surgeon General's most recent report highlights that good oral health during pregnancy will increase both maternal and infant health. Additionally, mothers with poor oral health put their children at a higher risk for developing early childhood cavities. New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and American Dental Association (ADA) have addressed this issue, recommendingdental care during pregnancyto include preventive and restorative services.

There are many changes that occur during and after pregnancy. Below are 10 oral health tips to help you and your new baby.

1. Visit Your Dentist Regularly.Receiving dental care during pregnancy is imperative to maintaining good oral health for the mother and child. The link between gum disease and adverse outcomes in pregnancy, including premature births and low birth weight, has been suggested. Receiving comprehensive dental treatment can be done at anytime during the pregnancy, however the safest time is during the second trimester.

2. Beware of Bleeding Gums. During pregnancy, fluctuations in hormones can cause significant inflammation of the gums and an exaggerated response to normal plaque levels. This results in bleeding gums. Good oral hygiene can help maintain healthy gum tissue. If you have questions consult your dentist.

3. Prevent Tooth Erosion. Nausea and vomiting is a common occurrence during the first trimester of pregnancy. Erosion and sensitivity can occur due to gastric acid exposure, resulting from morning sickness. To combat this effect, it is recommended to rinse with one cup of water mixed with one teaspoon of baking soda and wait a one-hour prior to brushing to avoid damage to the teeth.

4. Watch Out For Sugary Medications. Many liquid mediations contain a high amount of sugar. Whenever possible, look for sugar-free versions and have your child drink plenty of water following ingestion of cold/cough syrups.

5. Maintain a Healthy Diet. A healthy diet gives important nutrients required for the mother and unborn child. Food cravings can lead to an increased consumption of foods high in starch and sugar, which can increase a mother's risk for cavities. It is best to minimize snacking and chew xylitol gum at least 2-3 times per day, which helps todecreasethe amount of oral bacteria.

6. Minimize Sharing of Saliva. Bacteria (or plaque) from a mother's mouth can be transferred to their child's mouth through sharing of food, utensils, and other means of saliva exchange. Good oral hygiene practices by the mother can reduce the likelihood of their infant developing early cavities.

7. Pacifier Etiquette. While sucking is a source of comfort for a young infant, a long-term habit can lead to crooked teeth. It is recommended that sucking habits, either thumb or pacifier, stoparound the age of three. Pacifiers turn out to be a much easier habit to quit, and is preferred over thumb sucking. Remember, when using pacifiers,to never dip them in anything sweet, as this may cause cavities.

8. Clean Your Baby's Mouth.After feeding clean your baby's mouth and gums with a soft washcloth, to help condition them for future dental appointments. Once teeth erupt, brush your child's teeth twice daily with a child size toothbrush, floss daily when teeth touch the tooth next to it. Consult your pediatric dentist for fluoride recommendations for your infant.

9. Buy Fluoridated Water.Water fluoridation is the most cost effective way to prevent cavities. Fluoridereduces plaque levels and keeps the tooth structure strong and more resistant to decay. Water on Spangdahlem AB is fluoridated to optimal levels; however, water off base which supplies Bitburg is not supplemented with fluoride. You can purchase fluoridated drinking water (Culligans or Nursery water) at the commissary. Baby formula can have fluoride added to it, consult your pediatric dentist prior to adding fluoride water to baby formula.

10. Find a Dental Home For Your Child Early.The AAPD recommends that children visit their dentist as early as 6 months of age, but no later than 12 months of age or at the eruption of their first tooth. Establishing a dental home early ensures a child's oral health will be delivered in an ongoing, accessible, coordinated, and family centered approach.

The 52d Dental Squadron has general dentists as well as a pediatric dentist available to answer questions and assist with your child's oral health. You can contact us at 452-8193.

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.
2. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). 2013-14 Definitions, Oral Health Policies, and Clinical Guidelines. Available at: http://www.aapd.org/policies/. Accessed February 2014.
3. Oral health during pregnancy. The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) 2011;142(5):574.