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Pregnancy and Early Childhood Care
During Pregnancy
It's important to keep your teeth and gums as clean and healthy as possible during pregnancy. The
best way to prevent or treat gum problems is to practice good oral hygiene.
Some woman may suffer from bleeding gums. This is caused by a build-up of plaque (bacteria) on
the teeth. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque,
leading to inflammation and bleeding. This is essentially Pregnancy Gingivitis or Gum Disease.
To prevent this:
 Brush your teeth carefully twice a day for two minutes.
 Floss daily.
 Avoid having sugary drinks (such as fizzy drinks or sweet tea) and sugary foods too often –
try to keep them only to meal times.
 If you're hungry between meals, snack on vegetables and avoid sugary or acidic foods and
 Arrange an appointment at your dentist for a professional scale and clean early during
If you have morning sickness and you vomit, rinse your mouth afterwards with water and a
mouthwash. This will help prevent the acid in your vomit from attacking your teeth. Do not brush
your teeth straight away as they will be softened by the acid from the stomach. Wait about one hour
before doing so.
Baby’s teeth
Your baby’s teeth begin to form during pregnancy. During the third trimester it is the minerals
provided by the mother that calcify the baby’s teeth.
Foods recommended to increase calcium intake include:
 Dairy such as milk, cheese and yoghurt
 Calcium-fortified soymilk.
 Calcium fortified cereals and grains
If you do not consume these foods you may wish to ensure your pregnancy multivitamins contain
calcium. A healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy will ensure that mother’s and baby’s teeth
will be healthy.
Lower central incisors (bottom front teeth)
Upper central incisors (upper front teeth)
Upper lateral incisors (Either side of front teeth )
Lower lateral incisors (Either side of front teeth )
Molars (2nd back teeth)
Canines (“Fang” teeth)
Second molars (Back Teeth)
5-7 months
6-8 months
9-11 months
10-12 months
12-16 months
16-20 months
20-22 months
Most children will have all of their baby teeth by the time they are two and a half years old.
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Pregnancy and Early Childhood Care
Teething Tips
All babies respond differently to the arrival of new teeth and it can cause pain and discomfort
for some babies.
Signs of teething can include:
 Red, swollen and sore gums.
 Irritability
 Increased dribbling
 Flushed cheeks
 Changed eating patterns
 Raised temperature
 Changed bowel movements
Easing Symptoms:
 Teething rings - some teething rings can be cooled first in the fridge, which may help to
soothe your baby's gums. You can also experiment with cold foods like cucumber sticks.
 Teething gels: Non aspirin based teething gels are available at pharmacies
 Painkilling medicine: If your baby is in pain or has a raised temperature, a sugar free
medicine containing a small dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen may ease any discomfort.
Always follow the dosage instructions that come with the medicine. If you are not sure, ask your
GP or pharmacist.
Tooth Decay in early childhood
Just as adult teeth can decay, baby teeth can also decay from the time they erupt. Decay is
caused when bacteria use sugars from foods to produce acids. The acids then attack the teeth
causing mineral loss which can lead to the need for a filling.
Babies are not born with decay causing bacteria in their mouths. It is passed by contact from
their mother such as kissing, food tasting or by mothers cleaning the dummy in their own
mouths. This emphasises the importance of parents ensuring their own teeth and gums are
healthy before the birth of their baby.
The transfer of these bacteria can be delayed if parents and caregivers have healthy, decay free
Dietary Advice
Babies under four to six months of age need only breast milk or formula.
If breastfeeding: remove the baby from the breast after feeding. This ensures the baby is
suckling for food not comfort and it does not encourage constant milk in the mouth on the teeth
and gums.
If bottle feeding: take the bottle away when the child has had enough. The bottle should only
contain breast milk or appropriate infant formula. Any sweet fluids including orange juice,
flavoured milk, cordials and soft drinks cause decay and are discouraged.
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Pregnancy and Early Childhood Care
Introduce the child to a feeding cup between six and eight months of age. In most cases, the
bottle can be discarded when the child is 12 months old. Encourage children to drink water
rather than fruit juices or sweet drinks when thirsty.
Dummies and early childhood caries
Many parents are concerned that using a dummy will create the need for orthodontics in the
future. This is not necessarily true and is a preferred alternative to your child sucking their
thumb. Never dip dummies in honey, glycerine or other foods or liquids. All natural sugars that
are not easily cleared from the mouth, including honey, can lead to tooth decay.
Dental checks
First dental visits can help detect early childhood caries and ensure your child’s mouth and teeth
are developing, as they should. Oral health professionals recommend that your child should see
a dentist from 1 year of age with the first visit being focussed on creating a fun, relaxed time,
having a ride in the chair and counting the teeth! Starting early means your child will feel
comfortable should future treatment be required.
Tooth brushing
 Start as soon as the first tooth appears. Wipe the front and back of each tooth using a
finger wrapped in a clean damp face washer or cloth.
 Introduce a small soft toothbrush as a bath toy so your child can become familiar with it
and enjoy using it. Brush your teeth together and let them have a turn of your brush.
Keep it fun and sing a song.
 Brush along the gum line twice a day.
 Introduce a pea-sized amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste (as recommended by
your dentist) at about 12 months of age.
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