Pregnancy is an exciting time. It is also a crucially important time for the unborn child’s oral and overall health. The “perinatal” period begins approximately 20-28 weeks into the pregnancy, and ends 1-4 weeks after the infant is born. With so much to do to prepare for the new arrival, a dental checkup is often the last thing on an expectant mother’s mind.
Research shows, however, that there are links between maternal periodontal disease (gum disease) and premature babies, babies with low birth weight, maternal preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. It is of paramount importance therefore, for mothers to maintain excellent oral health throughout the entire pregnancy.
Why are perinatal dental checkups important?
Maternal cariogenic bacteria is linked with a wide range of adverse outcomes for infants and young children. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) advises expectant mothers to get dental checkups and counseling regularly, for the purposes of prevention, intervention, and treatment.
Here are some perinatal oral care tips for expectant mothers:
How can I care for my infant’s gums and teeth?
Many parents do not realize that cavity-causing (cariogenic) bacteria can be transmitted from the mother or father to the child. This transmission happens via the sharing of eating utensils and the “cleaning” of pacifiers in the parent’s mouth. Parents should endeavor to use different eating utensils from their infants and to rinse pacifiers with warm water as opposed to sucking them.
Parents should also adhere to the following guidelines to enhance infant oral health:
If you have further questions about perinatal or infant oral care, please contact your pediatric dentist.