Here are a few tips to make sure your baby has healthy teeth!
Your baby’s teeth are not visible at birth. However, a pregnant moms diet during pregnancy is a very important part of healthy tooth development. Your baby’s teeth already exist beneath the gums and begin forming at the sixth week of pregnancy. What you eat during your pregnancy affects the development of your baby, including the teeth.
Between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, children’s primary teeth begin forming and mineralizing- building the boneline inner tooth, called dentin, and the hard enamel layer that covers it.
Pregnancy and the first years of your baby’s life are very significant and memorable, as you will want to take good care of yourself and get your baby off to a healthy start.
Before Baby Arrives:
Eat a healthy diet. What you eat during pregnancy affects the growth of your unborn child, including their teeth.
- Calcium & Phosphorus: Calcium, a mineral that is the main component of teeth. The best dietary sources of calcium are in dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and low-fat yogurt. The calcium your baby needs is provided by your diet, not your teeth. Be sure to get enough calcium in your diet. Phosphorus, another mineral that accounts for the hardness of teeth. This is found in many high protein sources such as meat and milk.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus. Very few foods contain Vitamin D naturally. Mostly oily fish such as salmon and tuna. It is also produced naturally in the body when exposed to direct sunlight, although extensive periods of direct sunlight is highly discouraged.
Snacking & Tooth Decay. During pregnancy, it is normal for woman to feel hungry and have the desire to eat more in between meals. However, frequent snacking on sugary foods causes acid to attack the teeth, this can be an invitation for tooth decay. When snacking, choose foods that are nutritious for you and your baby such as raw fruits and vegetables, yogurt, or cheese. Always make sure to follow your physician’s advice regarding diet.
Pregnancy may affect your gums. Pregnancy hormones can cause your gum tissue to become more sensitive to plaque. Your gums will become red, tender, and likely to bleed easily while brushing. This condition is commonly referred to as, Gingivitis. Gingivitis is very common during pregnancy and afterwards if one decides to nurse. Your dentist may advise you to have more frequent cleanings during your second or third trimester to avoid dental problems.
Tips for Eating Well During Pregnancy:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain products and dairy products.
- Eat fewer foods that are high in sugar, including candy, cookies, cake or high sugar beverages such as juice and soft drinks.
- Choose foods low in sugar such as fruit, vegetables, cheese and yogurt for snacking.
- Eat small amounts of healthy food throughout the day.
- Drink water throughout the day, between meals and snacks. Drink fluoridated water or bottled water that contains fluoride.
- Reduce the risk of birth defects, take 600 micrograms of folic acid each day throughout your pregnancy. Take a dietary supplement of folic acid and eat foods high in folate such as, asparagus, broccoli, legumes, oranges, strawberries, bananas, and grain products fortified with folic acid.
After the Baby is Born:
Your baby’s primary teeth will begin to appear at about six months of age. Most children develop a full set of 20 teeth by the age of three. Having healthy, strong baby teeth will help your child chew easily, speak clearly, smile, and provide face shape.
Tooth Decay in Babies. A baby’s teeth can start to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth. Decay begins when teeth are in contact with sugary liquids for long periods of time. If decay is not treated, if can destroy the baby teeth of infants and young children.
Tips for Avoiding Baby Tooth Decay:
- Never allow for your baby or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle of milk, juice, or any liquid that contains sugar or pacifier.
- Do not put pacifier in your mouth to clean it. By cleaning the pacifier and putting it back in your baby’s mouth you may pass decay-causing bacteria.
- Start cleaning your baby’s mouth early on. Before teeth appear, wipe your baby’s gums with a wet washcloth after each feeding. As soon as the first tooth appears, start brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day, morning and night. Until the child is three years old, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- If your baby has sore or tender gums when teeth begin to appear, gently massage the gums with a clean finger, damp gauze pad, or teething ring.
- Plan your child’s first dentist visit after the first tooth appears but no later than their first birthday. Your dentist will check for decay, other tooth problems, and teach you how to clean your child’s teeth. Your dentist will also look at your baby’s tooth and jaw development.
- Check your child’s teeth regularly. If you see white or stained areas on the teeth at any time, take your child to the dentist.
- Take good care of your own teeth. Continue to visit the dentist regularly after your child has been born. Setting a good example, keeping your own mouth healthy, your child has a better chance of having a healthy mouth also.