Second in our new parent-to-be blog series; what does it take to grow a beautiful smile? As expectant parents, we worry about everything. From nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, to baby names and stroller brands, it can be overwhelming to give your baby what you think is best. But what many moms-to-be don’t realize is that their oral health can have an enormous impact on the health of a developing child—and his or her adorable smile!
Be sure to give your diet a boost. Poor nutrition can cause defects in tooth development, and healthy salivary flow and composition. Deficiencies in protein and calories, Vitamins A, C, D and iodine, excesses in fluoride and Vitamin D, have all been shown to affect the development of babies’ teeth. So be sure your diet includes a healthy serving of proteins, as well as local and organic fruits and vegetables.
Part of your dietshould include dark green, leafy greens. Calcium is needed for healthy bones and teeth formation. The calcium your baby needs is provided by your diet, not by your teeth, and calcium is heavily present in those greens. If there is insufficient dietary calcium however, your body will provide this mineral from calcium stored in your bones.
What about mom’s fluoride intake? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry(AAPD) does not support the use of fluoride supplements for pregnant women. When fluoride levels in community water supplies are suboptimal (below 0.7 – 1.20 part per million) and after consideration of other sources of dietary fluoride, the AAPD endorses the supplementation of a child’s diet with fluoride—after pregnancy.
Of course, establishing regular visitsand a dental homeare integral parts of continuing to help your baby grow his or her beautiful smile!
Sure, when you’re thinking about conceiving, you visit your OBGYN and general practitioner. But be sure to make a stop at your dentist’s office as well! Progesterone, a hormone that spikes during pregnancy, stimulates the production of substances called prostaglandins. This can cause inflammation of the blood vessels in the gum tissues and lead to gum disease. You should get your teeth cared for and cavities filled six months before you become pregnant, ideally. While you’re pregnant, maintain your schedule of regular checkups for dental health (but skip the X-rays). Some insurance plans have provisions for pregnant mothers to have a third dental cleaning during their pregnancy at no additional cost.
Recent studies have suggested that oral bacteria associated with gum disease and their bi-products have the ability to cross the placenta. Passage of these bacterial products can affect the developing baby by stimulating an inflammatory response in the mother, which may ultimately result in preterm delivery (PTD)—birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy— which is also associated with low birth weight.
Of course, after you have delivered the amazing new addition to your family, be sure to find a pediatric dentistto help your child be well on their way to oral health!
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Dr. Staci Whitman and Dr. Michelle Stafford worked for nearly two years to bring World Of Smiles to North Portland. They seek to partner with families to provide education and motivation for healthy dental habits. The practice strives for excellent patient care with a holistic, integrative approach while offering innovative treatment options. Both Docs enjoy teaching families and other healthcare professionals the importance of prevention and laying a foundation of healthy dental practices from a young age. They advocate for infant and child oral health, have had extensive experience with patients of special needs, and are Board Certified Pediatric Dentists. Learn more about who your family will partner with at your next visit!