Womb to Wisdom

Breast Fed 

Nutrition has a very important role to play in maintaining good dental health, and it’s never too early to start having good nutritional habits. Later in our lives we choose our nutritional intake and frequency ourselves, but as babies we have few choices. While developing in the womb we are completely dependent on our mother’s nutrition. At this time good nutrition is vital for the development of the baby’s mouth (and everything else). Having good oral health may also be important for your foetus. There is some research to suggest that the serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis, could cause premature birth and low birth weight.

I always advise expectant mothers to breast feed if possible, preferably for a year. Breast milk has a valuable supply of antibodies and iron which help to protect a growing infant from infections. Breast feeding also has other positive consequences- the jaw sucking action helps the baby’s jaw development in addition to activating the let down of milk, while simultaneously developing the mother-baby bond. I also recommend a reading resource called “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” published by the La Leche league.

Pregnancy is certainly not a reason to put off dental care, although a few precautions are needed. It is normally best to avoid x-rays or medications especially during the first trimester. Hopefully the patient has good oral health so that no major treatments are needed at this time.

A baby’s mouth tends to reflect the mouths of their caregivers. Therefore, parents and caregivers should try to have good nutritional habits, eating ample fresh unprocessed foods and having good oral health, both setting a good example and also avoiding the problems caused by the bacteria in the mouths of orally unhealthy caregivers spreading to the mouths of the babies they take care of (which, some research suggests, happens quite often). Best wishes for an enjoyable Christmas and New Year while maintaining healthy lifestyle strategies.

Angela Lowe-Ho

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