Between your third and sixth month of pregnancy, your baby’s teeth start developing. It’s important to get important vitamins and minerals during this time, including vitamins A, C and D, as well as phosphorous, protein, and calcium.
Contrary to popular belief, expectant mothers do not lose calcium from their teeth during pregnancy. Your baby will get the calcium he or she needs from your diet, not from your teeth. Be aware that if you do not get enough calcium in your diet, your body will provide it from the calcium stored in your bones. Be sure to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods like dairy products and leafy greens. Your doctor might also prescribe a calcium supplement.
It’s normal for you to feel hungry between meals when you are pregnant, but it’s important to choose healthy snacks that will not damage your teeth. Eating high-sugar snacks between meals can promote plaque build up which leads to tooth decay. Plaque is a sticky film that develops on teeth in which harmful bacteria can thrive. This bacteria eats sugar and produces an acid that breaks down tooth enamel. Allowing this bacteria to remain on teeth leads to prolonged exposure of your teeth to this acid and results in tooth decay.
Instead of sugary snacks, try snacks like the following:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products
- Whole grains
- Lean meats, nuts, eggs and poultry
Be sure and follow your physician’s recommendations for your diet, and try to eat nutritious meals and limit snacking if possible.
Pregnancy and Your Gums
Plaque can also have a negative effect on your gums, leading to redness and bleeding. This is called gingivitis and can lead to even more serious issues, affecting the gums and bone that hold teeth in place.
Gingivitis is more common during pregnancy. Your hormone levels go up during pregnancy, and can increase the sensitivity of your gums to plaque. During your second or third trimester, your dentist make recommend more frequent cleanings to combat this problem.
“Pregnancy tumors,” or tissue growths that appear on the gums sometimes appear during the second trimester. They are red and raw looking and tend to bleed easily. They are believed to be a result of excess plaque and are usually found between the teeth. Fortunately, they usually disappear after the baby is born. If you are having problems with pregnancy tumors, consult your dentist. They can be removed with surgery if necessary.
Proper oral care is especially important during pregnancy. Keep plaque at bay by brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. Your dentist or hygienist will be happy to demonstrate the proper procedure for brushing and flossing. Look for oral care products that have the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance to make sure they meet ADA standards for safety and effectiveness.
Visiting your Dentist
It’s important to let your dentist know if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Also tell your dentist about any changes to your health, medications, or any advise from your physician.
Continue to see your dentist regularly during your pregnancy. Oral exams and teeth cleaning are especially important during this time. Share any concerns you have about x-rays, drugs, and treatments with your dentist and physician.
Pregnancy and X-Rays
Because radiation from dental x-rays is low, current guidelines say that dental x-rays are less risky than postponing necessary dental treatment. Please note that dental disease not treated during pregnancy can lead to problems for you and your baby.
It’s important to tell your dentist if you are or might be pregnant. The leaded apron and thyroid collar the dentist will use during your x-rays will protect you and the fetus.
Dental Care for Your Newborn
“Baby” teeth, or primary teeth, begin to appear when your child is around six months old. By age three, most children have a full set of 20 baby teeth. Baby teeth are essential in helping your child learn to chew food, speak, and smile, and give your child’s face its shape.
A baby’s teeth can start to decay as soon as they appear. This decay occurs when the teeth are exposed for long periods to fruit juice, soda, milk, breast milk, formula, and other sugary liquids. This decay is called early childhood carries in infants in toddlers and can damage or destroy their teeth. It can even do permanent damage to their still-forming adult teeth.
It is possible to avoid tooth decay in children. Allow your baby or toddler to finish their naptime and bedtime bottles before going to bed, and prevent them from having frequent sips of sugary liquids from bottles or training cups.
Early Oral Care
Good dental habits should start early. Remember the following guidelines to ensure your child has a healthy smile.
- Your baby or toddler should never fall asleep with a bottle containing a sugary liquid or a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey. Water or a clean, dentist-recommended pacifier can be used at bedtime if your baby is thirsty or needs comfort.
- Good oral hygiene starts even before the first tooth. Wipe your baby’s gums after each feeding with a clean, wet cloth or gauze pad. Once the first tooth appears, start brushing it with a little water. To treat sore or tender gums, gently massage them with a clean finger, small cool spoon, or damp gauze pad. Your pediatrician or dentist may recommend a device such as a pacifier or teething ring, or a special “numbing salve” for the gums. Consult your dentist before using a fluoride toothpaste before age two.
- Your child should visit the dentist before his or her first birthday. Your baby’s first visit will be a “well-baby check-up” for the teeth. Your dentist will teach you how to properly care for your baby’s teeth and let you know if your child might need later orthodontic treatment.
- Check your baby’s teeth regularly. Once the first tooth appears, regularly lift the baby’s lips and check the teeth for changes. If you see anything unusual, including stained areas, visit your dentist.
- Be sure all of your child’s caregivers are sharing information about your child’s dental health and tooth decay prevention.
- Consult your dentist regarding fluoride. Your dentist can determine the correct amount of fluoride for your child.
- Don’t forget your own dental care. You are less likely to pass bacteria on to your baby when you keep your own mouth healthy. Don’t forget to make dental appointments for yourself, as well.