Dental care is essential at every stage of life and even more so during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many pregnant women go without dental care during pregnancy, either because they think it may create a risk to the unborn child or because their dentist thinks so. In particular, many women are unaware of the implications of poor oral health during the perinatal period, that time immediately before and after delivery. Poor oral health can affect the woman, her pregnancy and her unborn child. Numerous research studies have shown a link between a pregnant woman’s periodontal disease and low birth weight infants, premature births and the onset of preeclampsia. Furthermore, pregnant women with poor oral health risk infecting their newborns with bacteria that can lead to dental cavities in baby teeth, as most adults are not aware that dental cavities are, in essence, transmissible from one person to another.
Pregnant women should have prenatal dental care that includes examination, cleanings, and fillings if required. Frequent flossing, brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, and committing to a diet low in sugar contribute to good oral health during pregnancy. For women suffering with morning sickness, rinsing the mouth with baking soda and waiting for an hour to brush teeth after being sick to one’s stomach can limit dental erosion.
Once the baby arrives, our Lower Manhattan pediatric dentist recommends gently rubbing the infant’s gums with a wet gauze or clean wet washcloth after nursing and before bedtime. The first of 20 baby teeth will appear between the 6th and 12th month, at which point the first dental visit should be scheduled. Brushing the child’s teeth, with or without toothpaste, at least nightly, will help establish daily dental hygiene habits that will last a lifetime.