The birth of a baby is a life-changing event, and there’s a lot to do to get ready. You might wonder if visiting the dentist should be one of your priorities. The answer is yes!
It is especially important to keep up with your oral health routine while you are pregnant, including going to regular dental checkups. Morning sickness and hormonal changes make you more prone to cavities and gum disease during pregnancy.1 A good oral health routine can help you have a healthy mouth, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby.1
To maintain good oral health during pregnancy, the American Academy of Pediatricsrecommends:2
• Visiting the dentist every six months, or as recommended
• Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day
• Drinking fluoridated tap water (Yes, DC’s water contains fluoride!)
• Talking to your dentist about ways to prevent or manage dental problems
Oral health and your baby
Your mouth affects your baby, too. Keeping up with your oral care throughout your pregnancy helps protect your baby from cavity-causing bacteria. Cavity-causing bacteria can build up in your mouth and then be passed to your baby.1 This increases your risk of premature delivery, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia, which can threaten your baby’s health.3
Talk to your dentist about your pregnancy
You should tell your dentist as soon as you know you are pregnant. Most dental treatments are safe if your dentist knows you are pregnant. Make sure to also tell your dentist:1
• Your due date
• Any medications you are taking
• Any medical conditions you have or specific advice you have received from your prenatal care provider
• If your pregnancy is high-risk
After your baby is born
It’s never too early to start caring for your infant’s oral health, even before they have teeth! Here are some tips for caring for your infant’s teeth.4
• Whether you are breastfeeding or feeding your baby formula, try to wipe their gums with a clean, soft cloth in the morning after their first feeding and before they go to sleep. This helps wipe away bacteria and sugars.
• When your baby’s first tiny teeth come in, brush them with a soft, small-bristled toothbrush with water twice per day.
• Start taking your child to the dentist after their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday. Like you, your baby should go to the dentist every six months (two times per year) unless otherwise directed by their dentist.1
• Ask your child’s dentist about fluoride varnish treatment. Fluoride varnish can help prevent tooth decay.5
Remember to keep up with your oral care routine, too! By doing this, you will also be modeling good oral care for your child, building on the strong foundation you have given them for lifelong health.
Giving Your Baby a Bright Start
Bright Start® is AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia’s (DC’s) maternity care program for pregnant enrollees. The program is designed to support you during your pregnancy and after you give birth by connecting you to health care services and community resources. When you join Bright Start, you are assigned a Care Manager who will call you and work with you throughout your pregnancy to help you access what you need. If your pregnancy is high risk, a team of nurses and Care Connectors will check in with you often. They can help you stay connected to care during your pregnancy.
Get help with:
• Creating a birth plan
• Choosing the right doctor or midwife for your family
• Making appointments
• Finding breastfeeding support and childbirth classes
• Learning about prenatal vitamins
• Finding housing
• Getting supplies to prepare for your baby
• Getting rides to and from your appointments
• Signing up for home-delivered meals and other nutrition programs
To join Bright Start as an AmeriHealth Caritas DC enrollee, call 1-877-759-6883. Our trained staff is ready to help you Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To learn more, visit https://www.amerihealthcaritasdc.com/preventive-care/member/postpartum/index.aspx.
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The information in this article is to help you learn more about this topic. It is not to take the place of your health care provider. If you have questions, talk with your health care provider. If you think you need to see your health care provider because of something you have read in this article, please contact your health care provider. Never stop or wait to get medical attention because of something you have read in this material.
1. “Questions Moms Are Asking About Oral Health,” American Academy of Pediatrics, https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/campaigns-and-toolkits/oral-health/.
2. “Dental Care During Pregnancy Is Safe and Important,” American Academy of Pediatrics, https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/campaigns-and-toolkits/oral-health/.
3. “Is It Safe to Go to the Dentist During Pregnancy?” American Dental Association, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy/concerns.
4. “Children’s Oral Health,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html.
“Fluoride Varnish: What Parents Need to Know,” American Academy of Pediatrics, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Fluoride-Varnish-What-Parents-Need-to-Know.aspx
All images are used under license for illustrative purposes only. Any individual depicted is a model