Baby Teeth: Dental Hygiene During Pregnancy

close up of baby showing 4 new teeth

Editor’s note: please welcome Sally with some important information about taking care of baby’s teeth. As the parent of a child who had two cavities on his front tooth at the age of two, I think this is a big deal. Thanks, Sally!

Believe it or not, it is never too soon to start thinking about the health of your baby’s teeth, even before the little bundle of joy is ever born. By the time a baby is born, he or she has all baby teeth formed under the gums. The teeth are almost completely finished forming by the birth.

Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows first-hand how pregnancy often makes it hard to complete even the easiest of everyday tasks. Difficult as it may be, caring for your teeth is no less important while you are expecting. In fact, much like the rest of your health, its importance actually increases. Dental health can have an impact on overall health. If you are fighting off gum disease, for example, your immune system has fewer resources to use elsewhere. Severe gum disease may even cause premature birth or low birth weight.

Follow the same dental rules that apply when you are not pregnant, like brushing your teeth thoroughly twice every day. Look for fluoridated toothpaste with the approval of the ADA. Flossing every day is necessary in order to capture the bacteria that grow there.

Be sure to consume plenty of calcium, phosphorus, and various other vitamins and minerals. Your baby’s teeth and bones are forming while you are going through pregnancy. Remember to get enough nutrients for both yourself and your baby. Be sure to stay in contact with your doctor in order to address any concerns.

During pregnancy, you are likely to experience changes in your gums. Specific hormone levels rise much higher than normal, which alters blood flow, among many other things. Gum disease is much more common during pregnancy. This is especially true between the second and eighth months. The gums often become tender, puffy, and may bleed. The reason for the inflammation is the presence of the hormone progesterone, which causes the body to react more fiercely against infection.

It is a common myth that the calcium needed for the baby’s teeth comes from the mother’s teeth. This is not true. In reality, it comes from the mother’s diet, which is why it is important to make sure that it is balanced and healthy during pregnancy.

There are some people who seem to believe that fluoride should be used as a supplement for expectant mothers. This fluoride is said to help babies grow strong teeth while they are in the womb. The reasoning behind this argument sounds logical enough, but the fact of the matter is that this has never been studied and tested extensively.

Most experts feel that fluoride supplements are unlikely to help the formation of teeth during pregnancy. The science behind using fluoride indicates its effectiveness on fully formed teeth. Fluoride helps to strengthen the molecular bonds in the teeth, causing them to be more resistant to cavities. There is no evidence to suggest that they help the process of forming these bonds in the first place. Since the subject has not been fully studied, it is difficult to give definite answers regarding fluoride supplements. What we can say, is that as an expectant mother, the most important thing to do is maintain a healthy diet, so that your baby has the best opportunity for forming healthy teeth and gums.

Sally is an oral hygiene fanatic, who loves blogging and informing families about all things related to nutrition, fitness, dental health, and healthy eating. When she is not busy writing, she can be found enjoying some down time with her family.

Photo provided courtesy of yoshimov via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Earnest Parenting: advice for pregnant moms who want their baby’s teeth to be healthy.

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  • Jenny December 2, 2011, 8:53 am

    It is believed in our culture here in our country to put the first waste of the baby to its gums. It is believed to relieve pain when a child bears its first set of teeth. Is this safe?

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    • Amy LeForge December 2, 2011, 3:56 pm

      Oh Jenny, I can’t see how that would be wise. I’d be worried about making the baby sick! When a child is born, keeping the waste out of their mouth is a big deal for the doctors. That leads me to believe that this practice might be dangerous.

      Reply