Michelle Martin RDH, MPH Dental Hygienist with the Utah Department of Health — which helps under-served populations throughout the state get access to dental care, as well as provide oral health education to these populations — stopped by 2News to provide information about oral health for children and moms.
First things first, it is safe to go to the dentist while pregnant – in fact it’s recommended.
Taking care of your mouth while you are pregnant is important for you and your baby. There are actually different bacteria in the mouth when a woman is pregnant – which can cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). If not treated, it can lead to more serious problems causing periodontal (gum) disease. This disease can lead to tooth loss.
Remember, oral health care, including x-rays, pain medication and local anesthesia is safe throughout pregnancy.
You should brush at home twice day for two minutes. If gums are inflamed, you can use an over the counter antibacterial mouth rinse such as Listerine.
Women on Medicaid are covered to visit the dentist while they are pregnant and up to 60 days afterwards. For more information about who will see pregnant women on Medicaid for dental visits see Utah.gov and the Association for Utah Community Health’s website.
Once the baby is delivered safe – you’ll want to continue to keep the babies teeth safe.
Here are some tips:
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle.
- Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
- Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 and up.
- Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste — usually not before he or she is 6 or 7, or when they are old enough to tie their own shoes.
- Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
- Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
- If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean — don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
- Children should see the dentist by age 1.
For more information, visit BabyYourBaby.org.
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