Expectant parents have a lot of information to discover and plenty of choices to make. One of the important, but often overlooked, decisions is how to take care of your child’s oral health. When do you start seeing the dentist? How do you make the best choices as early as possible?
You might think that concern over your child’s oral health starts when they begin getting teeth, but it actually starts way before that. Our Rochester family dental team wants all expectant mothers to know that what you’re doing for your teeth now will have a huge effect on your child’s oral health for the rest of their life!
Good Oral Health Begins At Conception
It’s easy to get caught up in the business of pregnancy and neglect your oral health. The effects of doing so are serious, though, and you don’t want to let it happen if it can be avoided.
Pregnant women have incredibly high rates of gum disease, so much so that the term “pregnancy gingivitis” was created to describe it. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy do a lot of things to your body, and one of them is to weaken your body’s ability to fight oral bacteria.
When bacteria gets beneath your gums it spreads like wildfire. Soon you’ll be experiencing inflammation, tenderness, redness, and bleeding when brushing and flossing. It’s the bleeding that’s such a problem during pregnancy – oral bacteria that gets into your bloodstream will make it to your child, and you’ll be giving them the gift of harmful oral bacteria before they’re even born.
The average adult has over 300 strains of bacteria in their mouths, and only some of them are harmful. It’s those dangerous ones that end up spreading to your unborn child, and as they grow they’ll have the same oral health risks that you do.
Maintaining Oral Health During Pregnancy
The best thing to do if you’re planning to start (or expand) your family is to begin practicing good oral health habits right now. That includes making a trip to Northwest Dental Group so we can perform a comprehensive dental exam and cleaning.
If we see you regularly we can identify and treat problems before they ever become serious. Some of the symptoms you notice at home are perfectly visible, but there are a lot of them that don’t stand out to you that we can spot with ease.
You should also be caring for your teeth and gums at home with extra care. We recommend:
- Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. Use a fluoride toothpaste to help rebuild lost enamel, and be sure to take care to clean around your gumline as well. You need to make sure you’re getting all the sides of your teeth as well.
- Flossing every evening. It only takes oral bacteria 24 hours to start irritating healthy gums, and it doesn’t take much longer after that for it to slip beneath them. We know flossing is a bother, but if you aren’t doing it you’re putting your child at risk.
After Your Child Is Born
Taking care of your child’s smile before they have teeth is still essential. They will get plaque on their gums, and by wiping it down every day you can keep their mouth healthy for when teeth start to erupt.
It’s also essential to practice good oral health early because it establishes it as a regular habit. As your child grows they’ll know that caring for their teeth is a regular part of their day, which will make eventual trips to the dentist that much easier.
By the time your child’s first tooth erupts it’s time for them to start seeing the dentist. Early appointments are more about monitoring growth and health than anything else, but they’re still essential. Studies have shown that children who see the dentist twice a year starting around their first birthdays have much better oral health as they grow older!
Pregnancy Doesn’t Have To Be Scary …
…at least in the teeth department! At Northwest Dental Group we want to take the mystery out of pre and postnatal dental care so that you and your child can enjoy healthy smiles for years to come.
No matter what stage of life you and your child are at we’d love to welcome you to our Rochester office. If you want to be sure that oral health is a lifelong practice give us a call at 507-315-2932 or request an appointment online. We hope to see you soon!