The birth of a baby is a life-changing event, and there is a lot to do to prepare. You may be wondering if visiting the dentist should be one of your priorities. The answer is yes!
It’s especially important to follow your oral health routine while you’re pregnant, including going for regular dental checkups. Morning sickness and hormonal changes make you more susceptible to cavities and gum disease during pregnancy.1 A good oral health routine can help you have a healthy mouth, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby.1
To maintain good oral health during pregnancy, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:2
• Visit to the dentist every six months, or as recommended
• Brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day
• Drink fluoridated tap water (Yes, DC water contains fluoride!)
• Talk to your dentist about ways to prevent or manage dental problems
Oral health and your baby
Your mouth also affects your baby. Keeping up with your oral care throughout your pregnancy helps protect your baby from bacteria that cause cavities. Cavity-causing bacteria can build up in your mouth and then be passed to your baby.1 This increases your risk of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia, which can threaten your baby’s health.3
Tell your dentist about your pregnancy
You should tell your dentist as soon as you know you are pregnant. Most dental treatments are safe if your dentist knows you are pregnant. Also, be sure to tell your dentist:1
• Your due date
• Any medications you are taking
• Any medical conditions you have or specific advice you received from your prenatal care provider
• If your pregnancy is high risk
After your baby was born
It’s never too early to start taking care of your baby’s oral health, before they even have teeth! Here are some tips for taking care of your baby’s teeth.4
• Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding your baby, try wiping his gums with a clean, soft cloth in the morning after his first feed and before he falls asleep. This helps eliminate bacteria and sugars.
• When your baby’s first tiny teeth come in, brush them with a soft, fine-bristled toothbrush with water twice a day.
• Start taking your child to the dentist after their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday. Like you, your baby should go to the dentist every six months (twice a year), unless otherwise instructed by their dentist.1
• Ask your child’s dentist about fluoride varnish treatment. Fluoride varnish can help prevent tooth decay.5
Don’t forget to follow your oral care routine too! In doing so, you will also be modeling good oral care for your child, building on the strong foundation you have given them for lifelong health.
Giving your baby a good start
The #BestMe corner
Bright Start® is AmeriHealth’s Caritas District of Columbia (DC) maternity care program for pregnant women. The program is designed to support you during your pregnancy and after you give birth by connecting you with health care services and community resources. When you join Bright Start, you are assigned a Care Manager who will call and work with you throughout your pregnancy to help you access what you need. If your pregnancy is high risk, a team of nurses and care connectors will contact you often. They can help you stay connected to care during your pregnancy.
Get help with:
• Create a birth plan
• Choosing the right doctor or midwife for your family
• Making appointments
• Find breastfeeding support and childbirth classes
• Learn more about prenatal vitamins
• To find accommodation
• Obtain supplies to prepare your baby
• Travel to and from your appointments
• Enroll in Meals on Wheels and other nutrition programs
To join Bright Start as an AmeriHealth Caritas DC registrant, call 1-877-759-6883. Our trained staff is ready to assist you Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To learn more, visit https://www.amerihealthcaritasdc.com/preventive-care/member/postpartum/index.aspx.
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The information in this article is intended to help you learn more about this topic. It’s not about taking the place of your health care provider. If you have any questions, talk to your healthcare provider. If you think you need to see your healthcare provider because of something you have read in this article, please contact your healthcare provider. Never stop or wait to see a doctor because of anything you read in this document.
1. “Questions Moms Ask About Oral Health,” American Academy of Pediatrics, https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/campaigns-and-toolkits/oral-health/.
2. “Dental care during pregnancy is safe and important,” American Academy of Pediatrics, https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/campaigns-and-toolkits/oral-health/.
3. “Is it safe to go to the dentist during pregnancy?” » American Dental Association, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy/concerns.
4. “Children’s Oral Health”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html.
“Fluoride Varnish: What Parents Need to Know”, American Academy of Pediatrics, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Fluoride-Varnish-What-Parents-Need-to-Know.aspx
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