Oral Hygiene tips Advice for mothers
Being a dental hygienist I see lots of patients everyday: children, adults, the elderly, infants and expectant mothers. The last group is probably the group of patient’s I see the most. I often get asked from expectant mothers “How can I protect my baby’s teeth so that s/he will not get cavities?” I love this question! I actually start educating expectant mothers when they visit me for their routine six month prophy (cleanings).
The first thing we talk about is the dreaded morning sickness. Unfortunately, morning sickness happens throughout pregnancy for many women; although I can’t help you prevent it, I can give you tips to help protect your teeth. It is important that after experiencing morning sickness swish with water for thirty to forty-five seconds. This is important because the bile induced from the stomach is very acidic which can very harmful to the enamel. Expectant mothers should wait thirty minutes after the morning sickness before brushing as this allows the PH in your mouth to return to its normal state.
Creating your own oral Hygiene routine
The most important time of this visit is establishing an oral hygiene routine set for yourself; so that after having your baby it will be habit for you. I know this sounds like the easiest thing to do, but with pregnancy brings change! Expecting mothers are often tired and sleep a lot during the first trimester and can’t get comfortable in the last trimester. As this happens the first thing that is easiest to do away with is usually the oral hygiene homecare. The most important thing that expecting mothers can do is take care of herself during the entire pregnancy and this includes brushing and flossing two to three times per day. The most common thing I see post-partum mothers having a higher risk of cavities and most of the time is due to lack of flossing and brushing effectively.
Taking Care of Baby
Taking care of a new baby is very rewarding! Especially when developing an oral hygiene routine that starts from birth. I inform mothers about the importance of wiping the infant’s mouth with a clean baby towel or gauze after every feeding and don’t forget the inside of the cheeks and tongue. This is really important so that the baby’s mouth stays clean and will dramatically lower the risk of developing thrush. Thrush is basically a yeast infection that forms in the babies mouth (usually is white in color and can be found on the tongue, palate and cheeks). Thrush is hard to get rid of without an antibiotic from a pediatrician. A great tip is to start early with developing the oral hygiene routine; even beginning at infancy. Try making brushing and flossing the first and last thing to be completed when the baby wakes up and before bedtime. When the baby is still small start by trying to swaddle the baby and wipe the gums, inside of cheeks, tongue with a clean baby washcloth or gauze. I also recommend brushing and flossing the baby’s first tooth when it erupts with water or a finger cot or child sized toothbrush. Be forewarned that the baby will cry, but the more often you introduce it to them the baby will start to become accustomed to this routine. There is no need to apply toothpaste on the finger cot or child sized toothbrush water is okay to use alone. If you decide applying toothpaste is necessary I recommend using a training toothpaste (i.e. Orajel)or a gel toothpaste that contains Xylitol. The training toothpaste is okay for the child to swallow and the xylitol is as well. Xylitol is actually a natural sweetener found in nature that has been studied and proven to lower the risk for developing cavities. Xylitol also has other great benefits listed as follows: reduce the formation of plaque, increases saliva production which will aid in the repair of tooth enamel if it has been damaged. The American Dental Association also recommends bringing a child in for their first dental exam as soon as the first tooth erupts. Don’t forget to start brushing and flossing the baby’s first tooth. I recommend the floss sticks or flossers as they’re convenient to use and easy to dispose of especially when the baby is swaddled in the towel. Fluoride toothpaste should not be introduced until the age of four or five when the child is able to safely spit out the toothpaste.
Baby Bottle Cavities
Some tips we discuss with parents upon the first dental checkup deal with reducing the babies risk for cavities. The first tip is never allow the baby to fall asleep with a bottle or Sippy cup filled with milk or juice. Both drinks contain sugar in which in the right environment and frequency of the beverages can lead to sugar “pooping acid” and causing decay. If the bottle has to be with the baby at bed time only allow the baby to sleep with the bottle filled with water so that the sugar doesn’t have time to sit on the teeth and allow the cavity process to begin. I am an advocate for the Sippy cup as it allows for the milk or juice to go directly to the back of the throat and not spread on the teeth. The no leak valve cup allows for a more regular flow of the juice and milk which allows the sugary drinks to sit more readily on the teeth giving baby a higher chance for cavities.
In conclusion it is very important for expectant mothers to maintain great homecare throughout the pregnancy decreasing cavities post-partum. Quick tips to help the babies have the best oral health is to start early! Remember to wipe the baby’s mouth after feeding with a clean washcloth. As soon as the first tooth erupts take the baby for their first dental checkup. Use a child’s toothbrush or finger cot to clean the teeth. And begin flossing with floss sticks while the baby is swaddled in their bath towel. Refrain from using fluoride toothpaste until the age of four or five when the child can spit the toothpaste out. Instead use water alone, training gel toothpaste, or xylitol gel toothpaste. The most important tip is never allow the baby to fall asleep with milk or juice in the bottle or Sippy cup. A constant source of sugar places the baby at a higher risk for cavities to develop. For more blog posts like this please visit www.dentalstaffingsa.com