March is National Nutrition Month – Your nutrition early in pregnancy plays a role in the dental health of your child.

Healthy diet and good nutrition are important to all but are especially important in expecting mothers.  When you’re pregnant there are a hundred things to think about and worry over and dental hygiene may be put to the side, however this is one of those times where extra attention should be placed on it.

Did you know that the development of your child’s teeth begin as early as 6 weeks after fertilization?

This explains why it is so important that you take care of yourself very early on in pregnancy.  Malnutrition and poor diet during the early phase of tooth growth can cause tooth or jaw changes in your child.  Children of mothers who have poor nutrition during pregnancy can be born with enamel hypoplasia, a defect that increases a child’s risk of developing tooth decay.

Inadequate nutrition or periodontal disease throughout pregnancy may lead to your baby being born with a low birth weight.  Low birth weight has been found to be associated with enamel hypoplasia, palatal deformities, developmental complications, asthma, ear infections, and behavioral difficulties. One study showed that there was at least one enamel defect in 90% of children with low birth weight.

What exactly is malnutrition in pregnancy?

Since you are experiencing many body changes and are now supporting the growth and development of a new life inside you your diet must adjust to allow that.  The requirement for protein increases by 20% and is approximately 60g per day.  Be sure to have enough vitamins – A, C, D and minerals – calcium, phosphorus, iron an iodine so that your child’s dentition can develop properly. Follow the food pyramid – a well-balanced diet complete with; low fat, low sugar and high nutrient snacks is important (celery, carrots, milk, cheese).

Nutrition guidelines can be found at:

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-gs/guide/06_oh-sb-eng.

When planning a pregnancy it is important that you see a dentist beforehand.  This way you can have any required dental treatment completed and have your risk level assessed.   During your pregnancy you are also at a higher risk for tooth decay.  You are more likely to transfer decay-causing bacteria on to your newborn baby or other young children you may have.  It is as easy as sharing food, cutlery or even kisses that can help spread the bacteria.  Morning sickness can also be one of the culprits or tooth decay because of the stomach juice acidity.  If you have morning sickness it is a good idea that you rinse your mouth out with baking soda water or a fluoride mouthwash as soon as you can.

Ensure you are getting enough calcium too!

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Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre