Did you know that a baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? Expectant mothers can best support their child’s dental health by developing healthy habits of their own.
To support an infant’s bone and teeth strength, expectant mothers should eat a diet high in vitamins A, C, and D, as well as protein, calcium and phosphorous. Half of this diet should consist of fruits and vegetables. A well-rounded diet should also include whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice, along with lean protein such as eggs, poultry, fish, and beans. Frequent snacking, while common during pregnancy, should also be limited to nutritious snacks such as raw fruits, vegetables, yogurt, or low-fat cheese.
While diet may be a struggle for some expectant mothers, morning sickness is a concern most pregnant women face. Morning sickness can actually occur at any point during the day and can leave more than a feeling of nausea in its wake. Though brushing and flossing immediately after getting sick may seem logical, it is best to simply rinse with water. Stomach acid can eat away at tooth enamel, so it is important to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing with toothpaste. If more than water is needed due to discomfort, a rinse made of 1 cup of water and 1 tsp of baking soda will offer a clean mouth until brushing is possible.
Pregnancy may also lead to discomfort during brushing and flossing, but it is important to continue doing so twice each day. Potential hormonal changes, sugary snacking, and morning sickness increase the risk of cavities and gingivitis, so continued dental care is imperative during pregnancy. If discomfort occurs, some remedies may include trying a new flavor toothpaste, brushing at a different time of the day, or purchasing a toothbrush with a smaller head or softer bristles.
In addition to daily habits, regular dental checkups support expectant mothers’ current dental health, while helping the child’s teeth to form and grow healthy and strong. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees that common dental procedures, such as cavity fillings, are both safe and encouraged to prevent infection. Ultimately, maintaining the mother’s dental health is equally as important for the unborn child.