Passing on your smile to your children is more important than you knew...
Photo by Emily Penke at Peep Toe Photography
When you or someone in your family finds out the exciting news that a baby is on the way, there is so much to think of and consider! Will it be a boy or a girl? What will you name the baby? How are you going to decorate the nursery? Of course, the most important consideration is good prenatal care before and during pregnancy, and then pediatric care once the baby is born. So, Mom and Dad to-be make their prenatal check up appointments with the OB-Gyn and pick out a pediatrician to care for the baby after he or she is born. All the appointments are carefully scheduled, growth and development calendars are kept, do's and don't are minded and preparations are made. But...wait...are you forgetting something?
One thing that you may not be aware of as part of good prenatal care is establishing and maintaining great oral health. As we all know, pregnancy hormones change everything...and that can include your oral health condition. A visit to your dentist in the early part of your pregnancy is a great idea so you can become familiar with how these hormones can impact your gum tissue and teeth...extra swelling and bleeding, changes to your TMJ, etc. are possible during pregnancy. Also, your dentist can diagnose any cavities or gum disease that need to be treated while you are pregnant. This is much more important than you may think. When you have a cavity or gum (periodontal) disease, that means that you have too much bad bacteria in your mouth that has created a problem. If these problems are not treated by your dentist before the baby comes, you could pass this bacteria to your baby and put your child at risk for the same problems. Of course you will kiss that adorable little creature! Of course you will test out the baby's food to make sure it's not too hot. Of course the baby will stick it's pudgy little fingers in your mouth and giggle. But...with all these acts of love, you could potentially pass harmful bacteria to your baby. This means that your baby will have a higher likelihood of developing the same problems that you have. And this doesn't just apply to Mom. All caretakers that are in close contact with a baby should be aware of this and be treated at the dentist so baby is not an increased risk of problems when teeth start to come in. Your OB-Gyn will tell Mom and all people that will be around baby to make sure they have proper vaccinations and good general health so baby isn't exposed to anything nasty. So, don't forget this includes oral health!
Also, did you know that there is evidence that periodontal (gum) disease can put Mom at higher risk for a pre-term delivery and low birth weight baby? This is serious stuff. More OB's are sharing this news with expecting mothers during their routine prenatal visits and encouraging them to have regular dental check ups and necessary care. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that has been linked with several serious systemic health concerns such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. There is a great deal of detailed information to share about the link between gum disease, pregnancy and systemic health. So, ask your OB-Gyn about this connection to pregnancy. And...ask your dentist. Tooth decay and periodontal disease are treatable conditions. A simple visit to your dentist can help ensure that your pregnancy and your baby have the best chance for health now and in the future.
If you are interested in more information, I will be doing speaking engagements at Babies 'R Us in Overland Park (135th and Antioch). I will be there tonight from 6-7pm, and every 4th Monday of the month. Also, ask me during your routine check up. If you don't have a check up scheduled, you can even make a specific appointment for your prenatal dental check.
As a Mom of four children and a dentist, this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. So, please share this information with anyone that you know that is ready to be a parent or expecting that bundle of joy in the next 9 months. Passing on your beautiful smile to your children is more important than you ever knew!!
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Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist