Oral Health Essentials: A Guide For Expecting Mothers And Children

It has also been seen that children of mothers who have high levels of untreated cavities or tooth loss are more than 3 times more likely to have cavities.

Oral Health Essentials: A Guide For Expecting Mothers And Children Image credit: Freepik

The global theme of World Oral Health Day this year was, “A healthy mouth is a healthy body” which emphasizes the importance of maintaining good oral health to not only prevent dental problems but also create awareness around the importance of oral health which is often overlooked. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poor oral health is often associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and severe heart conditions. This is particularly significant for expecting mothers, as oral health during pregnancy can affect both maternal and fetal health. Dr. Renu Parmar, MDS– Orthodontics shares a guide to oral health essentials for expecting mothers and children.

Importance of oral health in expecting mothers.

Expecting mothers are at a higher risk of oral problems due to hormonal changes that can lead to gum disease, gingivitis, and tooth decay. Poor oral health during pregnancy has been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia. Additionally, untreated dental infections can potentially spread to other parts of the body, posing risks to both the mother and the developing baby. 

Importance of oral health in children

The oral health of children is closely linked to their overall health and development. Poor oral health in children can lead to problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections, which can affect their ability to eat, and speak, and affect their overall confidence level. Early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, is a common oral health issue in infants caused by prolonged exposure to sugary liquids such as milk or juice. 

Oral health for babies born with birth differences like cleft

In India, more than 35,000 children are born with clefts every year. While all children who lack proper oral health care and practices are susceptible to oral health problems, those with clefts face unique challenges related to oral health and have different dental care needs. A cleft which is a gap on the lip and/or palate can affect the development of the mouth, teeth, and palate, tooth decay, gum disease potentially leading to difficulty in eating, and speech difficulties. If ignored, they may even end up losing teeth at an early age. Because children born with clefts have unique oral health needs, they must receive regular dental check-ups and specialized dental care services. 

Tips to maintain good oral health:

1. Babies begin to develop teeth from six months of age. Hence, it is recommended to use a small-headed soft brush to clean their teeth and gums with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
2. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to remove plaque and food particles.
3. Eating a balanced diet is a must to maintain oral hygiene. One must limit sugary and acidic foods and beverages, and choose nutritious food like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and lean proteins to boost oral health.
4. Regular visits to the dentist ensure early detection and treatment
5. Expecting mothers should especially quit smoking and alcohol consumption as it can increase the risk of gum disease, and other oral health problems.
6. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help rinse away food particles and keep your mouth moist.
7. Children with clefts often need orthodontic services which focus on maintaining oral hygiene, aligning teeth, monitoring facial growth etc. Treatment may be required at various stages of development based on the surgical procedures the child needs.