From the mouths of babes

October 3rd, 2014

Buckingham Palace have recently revealed that the next addition to the Royal family is on its way.  Amid all the excitement, it’s important to remember that the Duke and Duchess are in the same boat as other expectant parents. Kate is suffering morning sickness, and the pair are no doubt juggling their work commitments with bringing up our future monarch. Whilst we all know about the dangers of smoking and drinking for the development of our child, less time is given to considering how to promote the best possible oral health. Do we really need to ‘think teeth’ before our child is even born?

Although you’ll have six months before your baby’s milk teeth start to appear, you’ll need to consider your child’s oral health during pregnancy to give them the best start. For example: the antibiotic Tetracycline was historically commonly prescribed for infections. This antibiotic, if used by nursing or even by expectant mothers, can lead to tooth discolouration in children. So if you do need to make a visit to your GP, it’s definitely worth asking the question before heading to the pharmacist with any prescriptions.

So your baby has arrived, you’re surrounded by nappies, and the real fun is well under way. At this stage you need to be thinking about fluoride. This agent will help to strengthen and build tooth enamel. Generally speaking many water boards add fluoride to the water supply with tooth development in mind  (but please note Fluoride is not added to Abingdon water or the Thames Valley) . However, fluoridation is a contentious issue and as such, the level of fluoride is not standardised. To check the level where you live, contact your local water board or check their website. Your dentist will then be able to advise on whether a supplement might be beneficial, thankfully these are rarely needed these days.

Another risk factor for babies when those first teeth start coming through is known as ‘Baby Bottle Decay’. This refers to over-exposure of your child’s milk teeth to any liquid that contains lots of sugar: milk, fruit juice and formula for example. Although it might not always feel like it when you’re up and down throughout the night, babies do sleep a lot. During nap time, liquid that has been consumed at feeding pools around the teeth for long periods, leading to cavity formation. This can be easily avoided. If your child is due a nap, substitute a sugary drink for a bottle of water. Alternatively use a clean and damp washcloth to wipe over your baby’s teeth and gums after feeding.

In summary, morning sickness and swollen feet aside, pregnancy is the ideal time to start thinking about how you can help your baby to develop a fine set of healthy and strong teeth. Those early months are really important too, and the measures you take then might well help your little one to take their first steps on a path of royal oral health for years to come.

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