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Oral Health Through Pregnancy

Prenatal
Follow these steps for a healthy mouth.

  • Have a Dental Checkup.
    Get your teeth cleaned and checked. Be sure to get any needed dental work done. The germs that cause cavities can be passed on to your baby after it is born.
  • Brush Twice a Day
    Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Use a soft toothbrush. Be sure to put the bristles of the toothbrush where the teeth and gums meet. This is where gum disease starts.
  • Floss daily.
    Floss daily to clean between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach.
  • Limit the Number of Times You Eat Sweet or Starchy Snacks Each Day.
    Sweet or starchy snacks can cause "acid attacks" on your teeth. Drink fewer sugary drinks and eat fewer sweets. Soda and sweets may cause cavities. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Seek Prenatal Care.
    Follow the advice of your health care professional. This is important for your health and the health of your baby.
  • Get Adequate Calcium.
    You need calcium for your baby's teeth and bones. Calcium can be found in milk, cheese, dried beans, and leafy green vegetables.

0-6 months
Babies need healthy teeth to eat, talk, and smile. Here are three ways to protect your baby's smile.

  • Check Out Fluoride.
    Fluoride prevents cavities and makes teeth stronger. Ask your dentist or doctor if your water has the right amount of fluoride in it to help prevent cavities. If your water does not have fluoride in it, or if you use bottled water for drinking or cooking, your dentist or doctor may prescribe fluoride supplements for baby.
  • Avoid Putting Baby to Bed with a Bottle.
    Putting a bottle in bed with baby can cause lots of cavities. If you breast-feed, avoid letting baby nurse continuously. Any liquid except water – even milk and juice – can cause cavities. If you think your baby needs to suck on something while sleeping, try a pacifier or a bottle with only water in it.
  • Take Care of Your Own Oral Health, Too.
    New research shows that you can pass on cavity-causing germs once the baby has teeth. This can happen by sharing and/or tasting the baby's food or letting baby stick her fingers in your mouth. Having unfilled cavities also means there is more chance to transmit these germs, so any cavities should be filled as soon as possible!

Preventing Early Childhood Cavities
Early Childhood Cavities is a serious dental disease. The result of this disease is cavities, pain, infection, early tooth loss, speech problems, and loss of self esteem.

Early Childhood Cavities is preventable. Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid putting baby to bed with a bottle or letting baby nurse continuously
  • The only liquid that will not harm your baby's teeth is water
  • According to the American Public Health Association, baby should be weaned by age 12-14 months

6-18 months
Here are four ways to protect baby's smile.

  • When baby is between 6 to 12 months, begin using a sippee cup.
    As soon as baby begins reaching for your jewelry and holding toys, it is time to introduce the sippee cup. It may be messy at first, but keep at it. Baby will love learning this new skill!
  • Avoid letting baby walk around with a bottle.
    Prolonged exposure to the bottle can lead to a serious condition known as "Early Childhood Cavities."
  • Clean baby's teeth daily.
    When the baby teeth begin to erupt at about 6 months, you should clean baby's teeth every day with a soft, damp, baby toothbrush. The best position will probably be for you to sit down and hold baby in your arms. You can also sit on the floor and lay baby's head in your lap. Check baby's teeth for cavities. Lift baby's lip and look at the teeth. If you see brown spots or chalky white spots, call your dentist.
  • Visit the dentist.
    Once baby reaches his/her first birthday, it's time to take baby for the first dental visit!

18-24 months
These are three important ways to protect your toddler's smile.

  1. Limit the number of times toddler eats snacks each day.
    Avoid giving your child soda pop, sweets, and starchy foods like chips and crackers. These snacks can cause cavities.

    Avoid constant snacking. Every time your child eats a sweet or starchy food, there is an "acid attack" on the teeth. The more "acid attacks," the more cavities. If you decide to offer a sweet or starchy food, give it at mealtimes.

    Caution; According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your child should not be using the bottle now.
    Bottle feeding for long periods of time or while sleeping can lead to tooth decay. This decay can cause pain and infection and also ruin your child's beautiful smile!

    Snack List for Healthy Teeth
    Love your children by giving them teeth-healthy snacks.

    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Sandwiches
    • Cereal with milk
    • Cheese
    • Yogurt
    • Milk
    • Juice without added sugar

    Limit snacking to 2-3 times per day.

  2. Brush at least twice a day.
    Brush toddler's teeth after breakfast and before bedtime. Use a soft, child-sized toothbrush to clean the teeth and gums. If your child knows how to spit out after brushing, use a "pea-sized" dab of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.

    Your child can begin to practice brushing his or her own teeth, but you will need to help. When your child is done brushing, then you should finish the job. Most young children don't brush well until they are about 6 years old.

  3. Remember – the dentist is your partner!
    After the first checkup at age 1, your child should visit the dentist regularly.

    Before you go, you may want to play dentist with your child. Use a flashlight and mirror and count each other's teeth. Read books to your child about going to the dentist.

    Remind your child what will happen during the dental visit. You might say "The dentist wants to see you again – and maybe take a picture of your teeth!" Keep the message positive.

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