Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by The Avenue Family Dentistry.
5 Dental Facts That All Moms (and Moms-To-Be) Should Know
There are so many questions when a brand-new baby enters the picture, and in addition to their ten tiny fingers and their ten tiny toes, they also have tiny teeth to take care of. As a dentist first, but also a few months into being a new mom myself, I know first-hand all of the worries we have. I wanted to ease the burden where their little mouths are concerned. Below are some hopefully reassuring answers to the most frequently asked questions I receive from patients, friends, and family.
Should I get dental treatment when I am pregnant?
This is a tricky question, since what dental treatment is safe depends on your existing oral health and the effects it can have on your baby. Regular cleanings are safe for pregnant women during most of the pregnancy, and especially the second trimester. Of course, experts strongly suggest skipping the X-rays this go ‘round to avoid any radiation making its way to your little one.
However, if there are more serious dental issues going on – for example, if you need a root canal or filling – the infection can actually pose a risk to you and baby both. Treatment may be indicated, in the form of antibiotics or otherwise. In this case, your dentist will make a collaborative effort with your OB-GYN to ensure that you get the safest and best care for you and your baby. This will also help you decide if the procedure should be done immediately, or if you can safely wait for your precious bundle of joy to arrive first.
We dentists need to know if you are expecting, breastfeeding, or post-partum. This is a very relevant part of your medical history, and it will help us better treat you.
What types of dental changes are normal when I am pregnant?
Well, ladies, just like the rest of your body, pregnancy can do some pretty crazy things to that mouth of yours. For starters, it is completely normal to see a lot of bleeding when flossing and brushing. Sometimes bleeding can even occur spontaneously. This is normal. Just make sure you keep flossing and brushing those pearly whites, and I promise the bleeding will resolve as your hormones calm down.
If you are diligent about maintaining your dental hygiene, your teeth should remain in their pre-pregnancy state. We dentists don’t expect to see any drastic changes like crowding teeth or increased cavities during your pregnancy. But as you’re probably learning, anything is fair game while you’ve got that tiny bun in the oven. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your dentist and let them take a quick peek. Peace of mind makes a happy momma, and a happy momma makes a happy baby.
When should I bring my child in for his or her first visit?
You should ideally bring your baby in for his first dental check up as soon as that first tooth erupts, or by the age of one, whichever happens first. Now the good news: this will be a very short appointment as far as your baby is concerned. Your dentist will take a quick look to make sure everything is healthy, so it will not be the long, torturous event you may have been dreading. You’ll likely be able to hold your baby during the appointment, for extra comfort and security.
This appointment is mostly for your own education, since you will be #1 caretaker of your baby’s teeth for these next few years. Your dentist will teach you how to brush baby’s teeth and how much toothpaste to use. At the end, you will even get a little goodie bag with baby toothpaste and toothbrush.
Is fluoride safe for my baby?
Fluoride is not only safe, but it is essential in maintaining the health of your child’s teeth. On my pediatric rotation in dental school, I noticed that the children living in non-fluoridated communities had significantly more tooth decay than the children receiving fluoride from the water. Regular and moderate consumption of fluoridated water is harmless to you and your growing baby, while she/he is both in and out of your belly.
Just like everything else, though, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. That being said, the proper dose is extremely important. Your dentist can educate you on the proper exposure based on your child’s age. For this reason, it is important to use fluoride free, age-appropriate toothpaste. This toothpaste comes in an assortment of flavors so you can get your child’s favorite kind. You can buy children’s toothpaste at any pharmacy, and most dentists will give your child toothpaste to go after their regular dental checkups.
What do I do if my child has a dental emergency?!
This is one of the most frequent calls I receive. Your little one is playing outside, you hear a loud noise, and then she/he comes to you crying. Naturally, it’s your worst nightmare … a bloody mouth. Even worse, a missing tooth.
First step: breathe.
Don’t worry; we have seen it all. We dentists are very familiar with children having their teeth hit, and there are several ways to handle the situation. You have to remember that a lot of blood is normal. The mouth is a very vascular area. The great news is that there is already a brand-new set of adult teeth that will replace these little teeth one day. No permanent damage has likely been done.
Comfort your child and clean up his little face while you get your dentist on the phone. Most dentists will be happy to see you very quickly after an incident, and he or she will be able to give you a good idea of what to expect as an outcome. A lot of times, there is no work to be done, but if something is needed, the sooner you get to a dentist, the better. If you do have the lost tooth, try to put it in a baggie filled with some of your child’s saliva or milk and bring it over with you.
Did I skip over your question about pregnancy and dentistry? Please drop me a line, I’d be happy to answer any questions.
Elizabeth Crapanzano Perez is the co-owner of Avenue Family Dentistry with her husband, Paul Perez. Both are graduates of LSU Dental School. They welcomed their first baby – a boy – into the world last September. She is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his baby teeth.