Perinatal & Infant Oral Health
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women receive oral healthcare and counseling during pregnancy. Research has shown evidence that periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Talk to your doctor or dentist about ways you can prevent periodontal disease during pregnancy.
Additionally, mothers with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing cavity-causing bacteria to their young children. Mother’s should follow these simple steps to decrease the risk of spreading the bacteria:
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Brush and floss on a daily basis to reduce bacterial plaque.
- Maintain a proper diet, and reduce beverages and foods high in sugar & starch.
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste recommended by the ADA and rinse every night with an alocohol-free, over-the-counter mouth rinse with .05 % sodium fluoride in order to reduce plaque levels.
- Don’t share utensils, cups or food which can transmit cavity-causing bacteria to your children.
- Using xylitol chewing gum – 4 pieces per day by the mother – can decrease a child’s odds of cavities.
Your Child’s First Dental Visit-Establishing A “Dental Home”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a “Dental Home” for your child by their first birthday. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care.
The Dental Home is intended to provide a place for dental care other than the Emergency Room.
You can make their first visit enjoyable and positive. If old enough, your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
When Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?
Teething is the process of baby teeth coming through the gums into the mouth. It is variable among individual babies; some babies get their teeth early and some get them late. In general, the first baby teeth to appear are usually the lower front (anterior) teeth and they usually begin erupting between the age of 6-8 months. See “Eruption of Your Child’s Teeth” for more details.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early Childhood Caries)
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby away for a nap, or to bed at night with a bottle containing liquids other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down and place the child’s head in your lap. Or, you can lay the child on a dressing table or the floor. Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into the child’s mouth easily.
Sippy cups should be used as a training tool to transition your child from the bottle to a cup. If your child uses a sippy cup throughout the day, fill the sippy cup with water only, except at mealtimes when you can use other sugar free beverages in moderation. By filling the sippy cup with liquids that contain sugar like milk, fruit juice, sports drinks, etc., and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, it soaks the child’s teeth in cavity causing bacteria.Water should be your child’s bevevrage of choice, and what they drink most often.