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How Pregnancy Dental Hygiene Affects Baby To Be

Trick or treat? Let’s face it—children are not the only ones who go crazy for Halloween and the boat loads of sweet treats that come along with it. I know plenty of mothers out there are already planning which of their favorite candy they will sneak from their kids’ stash. In preparation for this sugar-infested holiday, it seems quite appropriate that October is National Dental Hygiene Month.

If you are expecting, planning to get pregnant, or have a small child already, taking care ofyour teeth and gums has never been more important. What many women do not realize is that their own oral health can have a tremendous impact on their unborn child’s overall health as well as future dental health. Studies have shown that women who suffer from periodontal disease during pregnancy are more likely to deliver low birth weight babies. These pre-term births are often associated with a host of other systemic health problems for the infant. Daily brushing and flossing in addition to regular dental check-ups every 6 months can help prevent gum disease and therefore increase your chance of having a healthy baby.  Did you know that mothers who have untreated dental cavities are more likely to have children who develop cavities at a very young age? Huh? Cavities are contagious?  Like any disease caused by bacteria, dental cavities can certainly develop as a result of oral bacteria being passed from one person to another.

The most likely person to pass on these cavity-causing germs to a small child is their mother or primary caregiver. You can minimize this risk by making sure your teeth are cavity-free before giving birth. Nevertheless, resist the temptation to share utensils and cups with your child or to “clean” off their fallen pacifier using your mouth. As a pediatric dentist, I encounter pregnant women almost on a daily basis.

It is my professional responsibility to educate them about their own dental health and how it can affect their little ones. If you think being pregnant exempts you from visiting the dentist, think again! It is a common and outdated misconception that dental x-rays and teeth cleanings are not safe for pregnant women. Untreated gum disease and dental infections can put the fetus at risk. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry along with the ADA and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommend that women seek proper dental treatment before and during their pregnancies in order to minimize potential harm to their unborn child.

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