Mothers are often the chief medical officers and and chief dental officers in their households.
Too often, however, women who are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or have just had babies neglect their own oral health.
When you have a chance to talk to new mothers and mothers-to-be about their individual or group dental coverage, it might be helpful to tell them about the ways their oral health may affect the health of their babies.
Oral Health During Pregnancy
Taking care of teeth is always important – but even more so during pregnancy, when hormone changes can promote the growth of bacteria that can lead to gum disease. There is increasing evidence that moms with high levels of oral disease can pass decay-causing bacteria on to their newborns.
It used to be thought that dental care during pregnancy should be avoided or postponed at least until the second half of he pregnancy. We now know that it is important for women to keep up with their dental care not only during pregnancy but after delivery as well. Mothers should seek dental plans that offer preventive prenatal dental care at no extra charge. It’s a best practice for dental insurers to offer these additional services to pregnant women without applying them to the dental deductible or annual maximum.
Here are some oral health tips for pregnant women:
- Pregnant women should floss once a day and brush their teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. This is especially important if they have morning sickness and vomit, causing harmful acid to make contact with their teeth.
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash. This is safe during pregnancy.
- Women often eat more during pregnancy, and it’s important to choose the right kinds of snacks – ones that are not laden with sugar or starch. Sugar and starch both promote bacteria growth in the mouth.
- Expectant mothers should visit the dentist at least once during their pregnancy, and more often if recommended by their dentist.
- New mothers should take time during their pregnancy to learn how to care for their baby’s teeth.
- Good oral care begins in infancy, even before baby gets his or her first tooth.
Sharing Food and Bacteria with Baby
Mothers often share food with their children. They want to make sure the food isn’t too hot, cold or spoiled. But there is a great risk that they are sharing not only food but also germs. These germs, when combined with environmental factors such as drinking sugary liquids or putting a child to bed with a bottle, can lead to early childhood caries.
Early childhood caries is a form of rampant oral decay in very young children. It can result in numerous complications, including pain, infection and poor self image. Severe complications can result in the need for treatment in emergency rooms or even hospitalizations.
It’s critical that mothers take care of their own teeth and minimize their sharing of utensils with their children to avoid spreading decay-causing bacteria.
National Women’s Health Week
National Women’s Health Week is a weeklong health observance that coincides with Mother’s Day and encourages women to make their own health a top priority.
How can we celebrate the women in our lives during National Women’s Health Week and Mother’s Day? Pamper them and encourage them to indulge in healthy, fun and relaxing activities. Share resources and tips to help moms understand that they are taking care of their families when they take care of themselves.