While pregnancy is an exciting time, it is also a critically important time for your unborn child’s health. With so much to do to prepare for an infant, the last thing on an expectant mother’s mind can be a dental checkup. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that expectant mothers receive routine oral healthcare during pregnancy and maintain excellent oral health.
Why are perinatal dental checkups important?
Research has linked periodontal disease with increased 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 of a greater risk of passing the bacteria which cause cavities to their young children. Mothers should follow these simple steps to decrease the risk of spreading cavity-causing bacteria:
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Brush and floss daily to reduce bacterial plaque.
- Eat a proper diet, with reduced sugar intake.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste recommended by the ADA and rinse every night with an alcohol-free, over-the-counter mouth rinse with 0.05% sodium fluoride in order to reduce plaque levels.
- Don’t share utensils, cups or food which can promote the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria to your children. Rinse pacifiers with warm water instead of “cleaning in the parent’s mouth.”
- Use of xylitol chewing gum (3-5 pieces per day by the mother) can decrease a child’s caries rate. When choosing a gum, check for the “xylitol” ingredient as no other sugar substitute has proven to be beneficial in clinical studies.