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Dental care for expecting mothers and new infants

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This issue of the blog concerns dental care for expecting mothers and their consequent new infants. This post will discuss some of the basics, as they are easy to remember. This post will also assume your OB has not covered any of this material with you, as most don't. They mean well, but just as I am not an obstetrician, they are not dentists, and the information found here is extremely important.

As a pregnant parent, it is essential to eat a healthy diet. Most people do not consider that a fetus has developing teeth, and do not know that at their birth, a child's permanent 1st molars begin to calcify. Vitamins A,C, and D are important. Protein is  beneficial as well. Calcium is extraordinarily important, and dairy products are essential. Your OB can consult with you on possible supplements.

A common problem that all dentists see in their office with expecting mothers is the concept of a "pregnancy gingivitis". Some hormones may spike higher during pregnancy, causing this issue. A good flosser usually has no problem with this concept, but some new mothers may have such nausea that this will not allow then to floss properly. but it is imperative that a good flossing routine be followed.

Please tell the dentist if your are considering becoming or are pregnant. The dentist and his staff can then tailor the exam to your needs, forgoing x-rays, unless absolutely required, and although it is safe to make x-rays after the 1st trimester, I prefer not to make them with expectant mothers.

After the new infant comes home to his already exhausted and soon to be shredded parents, he most often asked question in my office with new parents is "when do I bring my child to the dentist?". According to the Academy of Pediatric Dentists, you should establish a dental "home", (home being a public health term for dental office) for your child at 6mos-1 year. Before some revision in the guidelines, the quick answer was 3 years of age, but it was officially felt that there was too much risk in childhood caries to warrant waiting this amount of time. Although I may quibble with these rules from time to time, childhood cavities is a very serious matter, and a parent should go by the best evidence available to include a child's individual needs.

A thorough exam of a child's oral cavity should be performed when a parent is ready to bring their child to the dentist for the first time. Instructions for oral hygiene need to be introduced to the infant. With this exam, there is the rare possibility that there may exist a problem that the parent does not notice, and demands attention. Basically this first visit is designed to get the child accustomed to the concept of primary care for their teeth.

I am sure to get into problems with the Welch's Corporation for the next statement, but fruit juices should be ingested at a bare minimum. These drinks are slam full of simple sugar, and will rot a child's teeth. Please ignore the label that says this juice has only natural ingredients, sugar is a natural ingredient.  The same admonition goes for milk, at bedtime. One Google search for baby bottle caries will alert a new parent to this phenomenon. There exists a sugar in milk, lactose, at it eats teeth alive as the sugar coats the child's teeth during sleep.

Lastly, fluoride in a child's diet is essential. A child should have a therapeutic dose of this element in their diet, to make to teeth more resistant to cavities. Just ask most adults who grew up without it. A parent is advised to consult their municipalities before  providing this benefit to their children, as there does exist the real possibility that an excess of fluoride can provide a permanent unsightly condition to a child's dentition. Assuming that there is a proper amount of fluoride in  the water supply, and a parent notice the water tastes funky, a Brita filter is fine. Fluoride is a hot topic with the fringe element, and while they have a valid concern about too much fluoride, again a therapeutic amount is safe, and your child may thank you later in their life for this benefit, although with my kids, I am still waiting on a thank you for the meal I cooked last night.

OK, this topic turned out to be a little more than a short note, even with the editorials. Any one can schedule with me to discuss this topic, and it will not involve needles!

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