Prenatal 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, pregnant women with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing the bacteria which causes cavities to their young children. Expectant women should follow these simple steps to decrease the risk of spreading cavity-causing bacteria to their unborn child:
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Brush and floss on a daily basis to reduce bacterial plaque.
- Maintain a proper diet, with the reduction of beverages and foods high in sugar and 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 cause the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria to your children.
- Use of xylitol chewing gum (four pieces per day by the mother) can decrease a child’s caries rate.
Your Child’s First Dental Visit: Establishing A Dental Home
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry all recommend establishing a dental home for your child by one year of age. 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 other than the Emergency Room for parents.
You can prepare ahead of time to make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive for your child. 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 confusion 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.