Have you ever heard someone say a nursing infant looks just like their mother or father, perhaps calling them a “spitting image”? A child takes on traits from their parents; it’s natural. Even so, it might be surprising to learn that an infant’s oral health can also be the spitting image of their parents’. Studies organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that a mother’s oral health is a strong indicator of her child’s oral health.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), nearly 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, which is an early form of gum disease. Further research shows a potential link between periodontitis (a gum infection that can lead to tooth loss) and poor pregnancy outcomes like preterm birth and low birth weight. Further research continues in identifying exactly how periodontitis is linked to unfavorable pregnancy issues, but the numbers point to a distinct correlation. It may be that during the physical changes caused by pregnancy, a woman’s body might take away some of the natural protection used to keep certain oral bacteria in check, making her prone to gum disease and cavities.
Oral Health Risks Post-Pregnancy
When women are pregnant, their appetites and eating behaviors often change. Depending on what foods they suddenly crave, it could affect the bacterial levels in their mouths. After the birth, the oral biome of the mother is often transmitted to the mouth of the baby through their close contact together. Research indicates that when a mother has high levels of untreated cavities or tooth loss, the child is three times more likely to have cavities later in life too.
Prevention of Oral Health Risk in Mother and Child
Research and studies continue, but it seems apparent that there is a link between the oral health of the mother during and after pregnancy and that of her newborn child. Therefore, it is important for any expecting mother to take good care of her teeth and gums. If you learn that you are pregnant, discuss your oral care with the support team at the Placerville Dental Group. Depending on the current state of your teeth and gums, we might have specific recommendations to make sure you and your child have the best oral health possible.
The Placerville Dental Group helps you maintain your oral health. We want your developing child to be your “spitting image” with good oral health as well. Of course, after your child is born, there are steps you can take to make sure they keep their good oral health. We encourage you to make an appointment with your dentist at the Placerville Dental Group to discuss what steps to take during and after your pregnancy. You can schedule an appointment using our website form or give us a call. With our help, expect great things for your child and you.