Dental Care for Mother and Baby
Dental Care During Pregnancy
Your dental health can suffer during your pregnancy. It is also important to look after both your and your baby’s dental health in the early months of your baby’s life to help make sure you both have healthy mouths in the future.
There may also be a link between good gum health and good birth outcomes: for example,you may be less likely to have your baby early if you have healthy gums.
You may notice that your gums become sore and swollen during pregnancy, and they may bleed. This is due to hormone changes in your body. This means that you must keep your teeth and gums clean and visit us regularly. You may also need appointments with our dental hygienist for thorough cleaning and to help keep plaque and tartar from building up, and for advice on caring for your teeth at home.
There should be no problems with routine treatment. If you are not sure what your treatment would involve, talk about all the options with us. Some current guidelines suggest that old amalgam fillings should not be removed during pregnancy, and that new ones should not be put in. Talk to us about having a different type of filling if you are unsure. Usually, dentists prefer to avoid dental x-rays during pregnancy if possible. However, if you need root canal treatment you may need to have an x-ray.
It is not true that pregnancy causes tooth problems through a lack of calcium, or that you will lose one tooth for each child you have.
Smoking and drinking in pregnancy can lead to an underweight baby and also affect your unborn baby’s dental health. An underweight baby is more likely to have poor teeth because of the tooth enamel not being formed properly. It is worth remembering that the adult teeth are already growing in the jaws, below the baby teeth, when your baby is born. So, some babies whose mothers smoke and drink in pregnancy may have badly formed adult teeth too.
When you are pregnant you must have a healthy, balanced diet that has all the vitamins and mineral you and your baby need. You need to have a good diet so that your baby’s teeth can develop. Calcium in particular is important, to produce strong bones and healthy teeth. Calcium is in milk, cheese and other dairy products.
If you have morning sickness you may want to eat ‘little and often’. If you are often sick, rinse your mouth afterwards with plain water to prevent the acid in your vomit attacking your teeth. Try to avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks between meals. This will protect your teeth against decay.
Dental Care for your Baby
Your baby should start teething at around 6 months old and will continue until all 20 baby teeth appear. At around 6 years old, the adult teeth will start to appear.
This will continue until all the adult teeth, except the wisdom teeth, have appeared when your child is around 14 years old.
Most children do suffer some teething pains. Babies may have high temperature when they are teething and their cheeks may look red and be warm to the touch.There are special teething gels that you can use to help reduce the pain. There are some that contain a mild analgesic (painkiller). You can apply the gel using your finger, and gently massage it onto your baby’s gums.
Teething rings can also help to soothe your baby. Certain teething rings can be cooled in the fridge, which may help. But, as teething pains can vary, it is best to check with us or your doctor.
You could take your baby to your own routine check-ups. This can help the baby to get used to the surroundings. We will be able to offer advice and prescribe medicines for teething pains, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. The baby’s own check-ups can start at any time from about 6 months old or from when the teeth start to appear.
Breast milk is the best food for babies, and it is recommended that you just give your baby breast milk during the six months of their life. At six months old, babies can start eating some solid foods. You should still keep give breast milk substitutes after the first six months.
There needs to be more research to see whether, in some cases, the natural sugars in milk cause tooth decay in babies. If you keep your baby’s teeth clean, tooth decay is unlikely to be a problem.
When feeding with a bottle, you must sterilise the bottle properly. Some breast milk substitutes contain sugar and you should clean your baby’s teeth after the last feed at night. Try to leave an hour after feed before cleaning you baby’s teeth. Never add sugar or put sugary drinks into the bottle. Milk and water are the best drinks for teeth. Bottle feeding with drinks containing sugar can lead to ‘bottle caries’ (tooth decay). A baby is not born with a sweet tooth and will only have a taste for sugar if it is given at an early age .Stopping bottle feeding early can help your baby from developing dental problems. Try to get your baby to drink milk or water from a special cup by the time they are around 6 months old, or when they are able to sit up and can hold things on their own.
Savoury foods such as cheese, pasta and vegetables are better than sweet foods. Food that doesn’t contain sugar is better for your baby’s teeth. Ask us for more advice about a balanced diet for your baby.
If your child has a drink between meals it is important to give them only water or milk instead of sugary or acidic drinks, which can cause decay. Babies are obviously not able to clean their own teeth, and children will need help to make sure that they clean them properly until they are about 7 years old. As soon as teething has started you should start cleaning you child’s teeth.
At first you may find it easier to use a piece of clean gauze or cloth wrapped around your forefinger. As more teeth appear, you will need to use a baby toothbrush. Use a pea-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste and gently massage it around the teeth and gums. It can be easier to clean their teeth if you cradle your baby’s head in your arms in front of you.
As the child gets older it may be difficult to do it this way, but you can gradually give more responsibility for cleaning their teeth to the child. It is important to clean teeth twice a day with a toothpaste that contains at least 1000ppm (parts per million) of fluoride. After 3 years old, use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm to 1500ppm. You should make sure that they do not rinse but spit out the toothpaste, and that they don’t swallow any if possible.
If you baby needs a dummy, soother or pacifier, there are ‘orthodontic’ ones that reduce the risk of these problems. So, if your baby does want to use a dummy, make sure you choose an orthodontic one.
Never dip you baby’s dummy, soother or pacifier or teething ring into fruit syrups, honey, fruit juices or anything containing sugars, particularly at bedtime. The harmful sugar and acids can attack you baby’s newly formed teeth and cause decay.
It is recommended that children should go to the dentist with their parents as soon as possible. You should then take them regularly, as often as our dental team recommend. This will let the children get used to the noises, smells and surroundings and prepare them for future visits. The earlier these visits start, the more relaxed the children will be.
The first permanent ‘adult’ molars (back teeth) will appear at about 6 years of age, before the first baby teeth start to fall out at about 6 to 7. The permanent ‘adult’ teeth will then replace the ‘baby’ teeth. It is usually the lower front teeth that are lost first, followed by the upper front teeth shortly after. All permanent teeth should be in place by the age of 13, except the ‘wisdom’ teeth. These may appear any time between 18 and 25 years of age.All children are different and develop at a different rate.
Cleaning your child’s teeth should be part of their daily hygiene routine. You may find it easier to stand or sit behind your child, cradling their chin in your hand so you can reach their top and bottom teeth more easily.
- When the first teeth start to appear, try using a toothbrush designed for children, with a small smear of fluoride toothpaste.
- It is important to supervise your child’s brushing until they are at least seven.
- Once all the teeth have appeared, use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles in small, circular movements and try to concentrate on one section at a time.
- Don’t forget to brush gently behind the teeth and onto gums.
- Spit out after brushing and do not rinse, so that the fluoride stays on your teeth longer.
- If possible, make brushing a routine – just before your child goes to bed and at least one other time during the day.
- Remember to encourage your child, as praise will often get results!
Fluoride comes from a number of different sources including toothpaste, specific fluoride applications and perhaps the drinking water in your area. These can all help to prevent tooth decay All children up to three years old should use a smear of toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm (parts per million). After three years old, they should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains 1350ppm to 1500ppm. You can check the level of fluoride on the packaging of the toothpaste. You should supervise your children’s brushing up to the age of 7, and make sure they spit out the toothpaste and don’t swallow any if possible.
The main cause of tooth decay is not the amount of sugar or acid in the diet, but how often it is eaten or drunk. The more often your child has sugary or acidic foods or drinks, the more likely they are to have decay. So, it is important to have sugary and acidic foods just at mealtimes. If you want to give your child a snack, try to stick to cheese, vegetables and fruit. Try to limit how much dried fruit you give as it is high in sugar and can stick to the teeth. Don’t give them drinks containing sugars, including fruit juices, between meals. Give them water or milk instead. For babies, don’t add sugar to their drinks, or to foods when you introduce them to solids.
Children can sense fear in their parents, so it is important not to let your child feel that a visit to our dental team is something to be worried about. Try to be supportive if your child needs to have any dental treatment. If you have any fears of your own about going to the dentist, don’t let your child hear you talk about them.
Regular visits to the dentist are essential in helping your child get used to the surroundings and what happens there. A child can be much more anxious if it is their first visit to our dental practice. Pain and distress can happen at any time and it is important to prepare your child with regular visits.