Imagine growing up without ever having a cavity. It is now possible for children to reach adulthood cavity free with the early guidance of preventative dental care. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend a “Dental Home” for children by one year of age. Children who have a dental home receive the timely and appropriate care needed to set the foundation for a lifetime of exceptional dental health.
The importance of a mother’s nutrition before the baby is born. An unborn child’s teeth begin to form by the second month of pregnancy and start to harden by the second trimester. It is crucial for mom to have a balanced diet to promote the proper development of a child’s teeth. A balanced diet consists of providing adequate amounts of vitamins A, C, D, protein, calcium and phosphorus to aid in the development of healthy teeth. Inadequate nutrition of a pregnant mother can result in improperly formed tooth enamel. Weak enamel may contribute to a child having an increased risk for cavities.
Healthy teeth & gums in mom lead to healthy teeth & gums in children. Bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transmitted from a mother to her child. It is important to have mom’s teeth decay free before birth of her child. During pregnancy there will likely be hormone fluctuations that may contribute to the desire for mom to snack more frequently. Frequent snacking can contribute to the increased accumulation of dental plaque. Bacteria in dental plaque produce acid that weakens the enamel of teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day needs to receive increased emphasis during pregnancy to reduce the risk of cavities forming.
Hormone fluctuations and plaque that is not removed can irritate the gums. A condition called gingivitis may result and is characterized by red, tender gums that bleed easily. Untreated gingivitis can lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis. Poor periodontal health can contribute to premature delivery and low birth weight of children. It is important for mothers to practice outstanding oral hygiene and to see a dentist regularly throughout pregnancy.
What is a pediatric dentist? A pediatric dentist has an extra two or three years of specialized training after dental school working with infants, children, teenagers, and patients with special health care needs. A pediatric dentist is best qualified to assist with guiding children into adulthood with optimal dental health.
The eruption of a child’s first teeth. At birth a child already has their first 20 teeth in their jawbones. The teeth normally begin to erupt around 6 months of age and all 20 primary teeth are often fully erupted by the age of three. Primary (Baby) teeth are important for three main reasons:
1) Chewing and eating to provide proper nutrition for growth
2) Provide space for the permanent teeth to erupt in correct positions
3) Aid in the normal development of jaw bones and muscles
When teething some children may experience sore or tender gums. Rubbing a washcloth or clean finger over the gums can be soothing for children. Contrary to popular belief, fever is not associated with erupting teeth. If a child would develop a high or persistent fever while teething it is important to follow-up with their pediatrician.
My next blog post will discuss oral hygiene for your child and what to expect at the first dental visit. Please contact our office with any questions and for your free infant dental kit. We are located in Bloomington near the College Mall, next to Goodwill.
Matthew L. Rasche, DDS, MSD, Southern Indiana Pediatric Dentistry, www.SiPediatricDentistry.com, (812) 333-KIDS