Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Congratulation! You have a new addition to the family. Now how are we going to take care of their oral health?
Dentists can be a part of the healthcare process in the prenatal stages. For example, they can evaluate the risk of developing poor oral health based upon recommendations a family’s oral health history. This is because both genetic and environmental factors within the current household are transferable to the infant. Studies have shown that parents with oral decay are 2-3X more likely to have child with decay.
There is a genetic component to dental decay. This includes variance in tooth morphology, bacterial compositions and density and jaw relationships. For example, crooked teeth are more prone to decay as they possess harder to clean surfaces than well aligned teeth. Salivary constituents, our food preferences (thank you to my dad for my sweet tooth!), and our mom’s oral microbiota all impact out oral health. These factors are also linked to our genes.
If parents do not teach their children about oral health habits or are indifferent about their own teeth, it’s likely the child will pick up on the same mindset.
Dentists can talk to the family about diet and even coordinate action plans with a dietician. A high protein, low carb, veggie-rich diet is ideal. Avoid processed foods. Reduce snacking frequency as it creates a acidic paradise for bacteria and leads to rampant tooth destruction.
Taken together, these habits will improve the health of all family members.
Take precautions during the pregnancy phase. Expectant mothers should try and get their periodontal health under control, as periodontal issues put one at risk of delivering premature and/or low birth-weight babies. If you can keep up your oral health before becoming pregnant, the propensity to develop complications is reduced. Its best to visit the dentist during the second trimester should an emergency arise.
Breast milk is not associated with tooth decay, but when transitioning to alternate nutrition sources, be mindful of consumption frequency.
Pedestrians usually recommend solid food by 4-6 months.
Most parents bring their child into the dentist's office for the first time due to an emergency. This high stress environment can create long-lasting fear and avoidance behaviour. For this reason, its ideal to bring a child in before their first birthday. Also, be sure to visit a dentist when the first teeth come in. Encourage children use mouth gaurds and bring them by the dental office for calm, low-anxiety appointments as well.
The dentist is a key member of the healthcare team. They can help the mother retain her teeth during pregnancy and possess unique tools to help welcome the new family member.
Don't delay, be prepared and smile!