Perinatal & Infant Oral Health
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, mothers with poor oral health may
be at a greater risk of passing the bacteria which causes cavities to their
young children. Mother's should follow these simple steps to decrease the risk
of spreading cavity-causing bacteria:
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Brush and floss on a daily basis to reduce
- Proper diet, with the reduction of
beverages and foods high in sugar & 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 (4 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 (AAP),
the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric
Dentistry (AAPD) 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.
Dental Home is intended to provide a place other than the
Emergency Room for parents.
You can make the first visit to the
dentist enjoyable and positive. 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 to-do concerning the visit,
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.
Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?
Teething, the process of baby (primary) teeth coming through the gums
into the mouth, is variable among individual babies. Some babies get their
teeth early and some get them late. In general, the first baby teeth to
usually the lower front (anterior) teeth and they usually begin erupting between
the age of 6-8 months. See "Eruption
of Your Child's Teeth" for
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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth
decay, also referred to by dentists as early childhood caries. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant's teeth
to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk),
formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than
water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child's
teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If
you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water.
If your child won't fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage,
gradually dilute the bottle's contents with water over a period of two to
After each feeding, wipe the baby's gums and teeth with a damp
washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place
the child's head in your lap or lay the child on a dressing table or the floor.
Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into the child's mouth easily.