Dental Care Matters During Pregnancy

Dental Care Matters During Pregnancy
By Julia Stanek

While it may not necessarily be the first consideration during pregnancy, dental care is incredibly important for not only your health, but also the health of your developing baby. Changing hormones can alter oral health, making it necessary to integrate a new oral hygiene routine during pregnancy. A mother’s oral health can directly affect her pregnancy and the developing baby, so it is important to know how to properly care for yourself and in turn, your baby. While an increase in risk of complications due to changes in hormone levels can be difficult to control, other factors such as proper oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and communication can help to alleviate severe complications due to maternal periodontal disease.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can directly affect oral health.
During pregnancy, your body begins to experience many changes, including hormonal changes. An increase in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed, and begin to trap food, which can cause major irritation to the gums. This irritation may cause oral health care to become painful and difficult to maintain. These changes can also affect the body’s ability to respond to bacteria, resulting in a greater risk of acquiring periodontal infections. Hormonal changes can increase the risk of developing gum disease and gingivitis, which if left untreated may lead to a more severe type of gum disease called periodontitis.
Not only is oral care important in maintaining your own health, poor oral health can directly affect your developing baby.
Studies show a link between periodontitis and premature birth and low birth weight. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant mortality and low birth weight can cause breathing problems, infections, and intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) in newborns. Low birth weight babies are also more likely to face a myriad of severe conditions later in life such as diabetes, heart disease, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Periodontal disease can also cause a condition call preeclampsia. Preeclampsia affects the mother as well as the developing baby. Mothers can experience severe symptoms and even life threatening complications, while the condition can also prevent the placenta from receiving enough blood (meaning your baby does not get sufficient food and oxygen).
Integrating oral hygiene into your daily routine is the best way to avoid complications.
Dentists recommend scheduling preventative exams and cleanings during pregnancy, however unnecessary dental work should be postponed until after birth. Make sure to communicate with your dentist that you are pregnant and be ready to provide the names and dosages of any medications or supplements you may be taking. Diet is also important to consider. The American Dental Association recommends pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush teeth thoroughly twice daily, and floss regularly. Diets consisting of dairy products are a good source of essential minerals and are good for the developing gums, teeth and bones of your growing baby. Avoid sugary snacks and make sure to brush immediately after eating anything high in sugar.
Approximately 40% of pregnancies are complicated by some form of periodontal disease. Although not every complication during pregnancy may be avoidable, mothers who maintain good oral health throughout pregnancy are more likely to avoid a wide array of significant risks for a baby’s health both during and after pregnancy. Perhaps most importantly, maintaining knowledge and awareness about how a mother’s health can directly affect her developing baby can help to decrease risks of maternal periodontal disease. Dental care is always important, but as potential risks arise during pregnancy due to multiple factors, it is vitally important to keep dental care at the forefront of your mind during pregnancy.

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Poll shows parents need clear guidance about pediatric oral health needs

In some cases, pediatricians don’t offer education about children’s oral health. In others, parents might not take it. Either way, parents who aren’t prompted by their pediatrician or other health professional don’t get their children the early dental care they need.

A new poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, reveals that of nearly 800 parents polled on oral health for their children, less than half were educated by a physician or dentist. Of the parents who were not educated by a healthcare provider on dental care, 17% believed their child didn’t need to see a dentist until age 4 years.

Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend children begin visiting a dentist around age 1 year as teeth begin to emerge, but this poll makes it clear that education aimed at parents about dental care is lacking.

“For many families, the pediatrician is key to making sure parents understand the importance of early dentist visits, but this study shows that over half of parents don’t recall any recommendation from the pediatrician,” says Sarah J. Clark, MPH, associate research scientist for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan’s Child Health Evaluation and Research Center (CHEAR) and co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. “Pediatrician guidance is particularly important because many parents don’t make routine dental visits themselves, so they are not in a position to get that information and guidance from the dentist.”

Recommended: How you can tackle oral healthcare

Clark says early dental care is important for establishing good dental health, and for early detection and treatment of tooth decay in children. However, there seem to be pockets of parents who are not receiving education about dental care.

According to the poll, 45% of parents reported receiving information from their child’s dentist or doctor about initiating regular dental visits, but parents in this group were typically from higher income and education brackets with private dental insurance. This divide is concerning, according to the poll researchers.

Tooth decay occurs in up to 40% of children by the time they reach kindergarten, according to the AAP, and poll researchers note that dental caries occur at higher rates in low-income populations. Many state Medicaid programs already fall short when it comes to dental coverage, and additional proposed cuts may exacerbate the problems further. Families are looking to affordable private insurance from providers like My Generation Benefits.

Whereas state programs are mandated to cover dental care for children, parents may not receive coverage or have restrictions in place in order to receive care. Poor dental health can not only affect an individual’s appearance and oral health, but it can also lead to infection and a host of other health problems. For these reasons, it’s important to educate all patients, particularly in cases in which parents also may not be receiving the dental care or education they need. Parents also find Dental care plans in these instances make more sense economically for their family and still see the same provider.

The poll also notes, however, that even when education is offered, parents might get outdated information or misunderstand the recommendations given to them.

Among parents who say they did receive education from a pediatrician or other physician about dental care, 47% reported that they believed children should first see a dentist at age 1 year or younger; another 47% thought the first dental visit should be between ages 2 and 3 years; and 6% of parents who received education from a provider thought dental visits should be delayed until age 4 years or later.

In comparison, among parents who received no education or information on dental care from a healthcare provider, just 35% believed dental visits should begin at age 1 year or younger; 48% reported dental care should begin between ages 2 and 3 years; and 17% stated that dental care should begin at age 4 years or older.

As far as overall compliance with dental care, 60% of the parents polled had taken their child for a dental visit, and the age at which they first took their child to the dentist matched the parents’ belief about when to start dental care 85% of the time. Nearly 80% of parents reported feeling that their child’s dental visit was worthwhile.

For the 40% of parents polled who had not ever taken their child to the dentist, researchers investigated why. Forty-two percent of parents who had not taken their child to the dentist believed that the child was not yet old enough; 25% believed their child’s teeth were healthy; and 15% felt their child would be afraid of the dentist.

In a statement about the poll results, researchers say that parents’ lack of awareness of dental care recommendations is understandable, considering how much guidelines have changed over the years. “Parents get much less guidance on when their child should go to the dentist compared to the doctor,” the statement continues.

Well visits for children begin immediately after birth, and the first few years of a child’s life are filled with scheduled assessments and vaccinations. Parents can easily become overwhelmed with all the information they receive at these visits, or physicians may run out of time to discuss dental care.

“A likely barrier is the time crunch to include all recommended elements of anticipatory guidance at well-child visits in the second year of life (ages 12, 15, and 18 months),” Clark says. “A related barrier is the challenge that parents have remembering all that advice—so a handout or ‘prescription’ to make a dentist appointment might be helpful.”

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Clark says this poll is a good reminder to pediatricians to discuss dental care and to find new ways to educate parents.

“This is a great reminder for pediatricians that guidance to parents makes a difference,” Clark adds. “We don’t assume that parents know when to seek well-child visits and other aspects of preventive care—we guide them; the same is true for dental care. I hope this research encourages pediatricians to communicate clearly about the importance of early dental visits.”

 

Source: http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/contemporary-pediatrics/news/what-you-need-be-doing-about-oral-health

 

7 Tips to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Try out a few of these tactics to help your child get on a daily routine and the right track for great oral health.

1.) Set a good example!
Lead by example. Show your kids your oral health routine. Let them watch, hand them a toothbrush or if age appropriate some dental floss. Make it a positive experience that is a part of your daily routine.

2) Practice! Practice! Practice!
What’s a little baby doll brushing or practicing on a quick brush on you going to hurt? Nothing! In fact the more familiar the activity becomes for the child the more comfortable and easier to keep up those good oral hygiene habits!

3) Rewards. They work. Use them.
There is something that will entice your little one to brush those chompers. Is it a sticker chart? Maybe it’s a new toothbrush or a special tooth paste? There are several brands of tooth brushes that look and feel like toys, perfect rewards for good brushing.

4) Add some Technology!
What brings kids to the sink? Tunes and apps. That’s right, go to your favorite app store and check out the various apps you can download to provide your oral diva some tunes to jam to. Perfectly timed so they know when it’s been long enough, and they can stop.

5) Let Them Do It!
You know the struggle. Let them take the cap of the tooth paste, pour the fluoride into a cup, floss the front teeth… Whatever the task, let them participate as soon as the interest and ability is there.

6) Cater to the Little Things
If you still feel the resistance maybe it’s the toothpaste? No really. Try a new flavor, try a no flavor. Remember the pallets of the young are sensitive and mint and heavy cinnamon can be over bearing for their taste buds. Start mild. Maybe it’s a new step stool to reach and see at a higher height. Try to see the experience from the smaller perspective.

7) Play Games
Try using your child’s imagination to your advantage. Tell them they are space heroes and their mouth has been invaded by a zillion sugar aliens they need to brush out- or maybe they are a Princess and they need to brush the glitter off their teeth. Whatever the game, try to remember what it was like to be a young child and how to enhance the experience for them. 

Don’t forget The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age. Find great dental plans for any age here.

Snack habits for kids is risky business for dental health

Tooth brushing only partly protects against the effects of sugary snacks on children’s teeth, research suggests.

A study of almost 4,000 pre-school children showed snacking habits were most strongly associated with decay.

Researchers found children who snacked all day – compared with just eating meals – were far more likely to have dental decay.

The study shows that relying on tooth brushing alone to ward off dental decay in children under five is not enough.

The study also said parental socioeconomic factors, such as the mother’s education level, explained more of the difference in children’s dental decay than diet or oral hygiene.

The researchers said that even though primary teeth were temporary, “good oral hygiene habits are set in childhood, and this relates both to diet and tooth brushing”.

Dental decay

Social scientists from the University’s of Edinburgh and Glasgow used statistical models and survey data to predict dental decay by the age of five.

They used data collected on diet and oral hygiene from repeated observation of children from ages two to five.

Snacking was the factor most strongly associated with decay, with children who snacked all day without eating meals having twice the chance of decay compared with those who did not snack at all.

There was an incremental association between lower frequencies of tooth brushing at the age of two and higher chances of dental decay at five.

Children who brushed less than once per day or not at all at the age of two had twice the chance of having dental decay at five compared with children who brushed their teeth twice per day or more often.

The study is published in the Journal of Public Health.

‘Ongoing challenge’

Lead researcher Dr Valeria Skafida, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of social and political science, said restricting sugar intake was desirable both for broader nutritional reasons and for children’s dental health.

Dr Skafida said: “Even with targeted policies that specifically aim to reduce inequalities in children’s dental decay it remains an ongoing challenge to reduce social patterning in dental health outcomes.”

Study co-author, Dr Stephanie Chambers, of the social and public health sciences unit at University of Glasgow, said: “Among children eating sweets or chocolate once a day or more, tooth brushing more often – once or twice a day or more – reduced the likelihood of decay compared with less frequent brushing.”

The researchers used data from the Growing Up in Scotland study – a social survey which follows the lives of children from infancy through to their teens.

The research was supported by The British Academy, the Medical Research Council and the chief scientist office of the Scottish government Health Directorates.