Can I Protect My Child’s Teeth Before They Are Born?

Congratulations!! You are having a baby!  I have been blessed to go through the process twice, and it is the best of times; it is the worst of times.  I do not consider myself an anxious person, but both times I was pregnant, my anxiety level increased significantly.  There was an overwhelming feeling of responsibility to take care of the precious bundle growing inside of me.  Suddenly, I was questioning things like, are the chemicals in my face wash safe for my baby and do I need to sleep on my left side or my right side?  No one tells you about these small decisions that seemed insignificant when you were simply taking care of yourself.  They begin to add stress to your day-to-day life.

Did you know that children’s baby teeth and some of our permanent teeth begin to form while he or she is in your tummy?  The teeth begin forming when the baby is only six weeks in utero!  Children’s dental health starts with the mom’s (and dad’s) dental health.  Research studies have shown when the primary caregiver has cavities, the child is more likely to get cavities.  Dental cavities are a transmissible disease.  A species of bacteria is directly linked to the formation of cavities… Streptococcus mutans if you are curious.  How would one pass cavities from one person to the other?  Blowing on your child’s hot food (guilty), drinking after one another (guilty), or sweet kisses (100% guilty).  Give those kiddos kisses and don’t stop!  But one way you can protect your child from getting cavities is to have any cavities you may have filled before your child is born.

Dental cleanings are safe and recommended during pregnancy.  Dental x-rays are safe for the pregnant woman if a lead apron is used to shield her thyroid and abdomen (although dentists may forgo taking x-rays while you are pregnant if you have a history of not having cavities or they do not see anything emergent).  Pregnancy does take quite a toll on your body.  As many women have found out, it can be tough on your oral cavity with morning sickness and the hormonal changes can affect your gums.  In my opinion, the best time to have your teeth cleaned and evaluated while pregnant would be during the second trimester.  In the first trimester, I was so nauseated, I was afraid the toothpaste flavor would make me sick, and in the third trimester, the weight of my baby bump made it difficult to lie on my back for any extended period. 

Another way to protect your child’s teeth is to eat a balanced diet with green vegetables and foods high in calcium. Taking your prenatal vitamins will cover your bases with any minerals you may be lacking. If you are suffering from morning sickness, swishing with a mixture of baking soda and water can bring the acidic level back to normal and prevent the enamel from wearing. It is important to stay hydrated, and drinking water with fluoride will aid in remineralizing any enamel that has been damaged.

Being pregnant is not for the faint of heart.  Just remember that this too shall pass and soon enough, you will have that snuggly little guy or girl in your arms and everything will be well worth it.  You may even do it a second or third time!