Healthy Smiles from the Start
The Montana Dental Association’s Healthy Smiles from the Start campaign aims to give every child a lifetime of good oral health. Healthy Smiles from the Start is a public education campaign targeting pregnant women and the parents and care providers of young children. The campaign aims to educate expectant mothers about the safety and importance of dental care during pregnancy with the goal of getting parents to schedule their child’s first dental visit no later than their first birthday.
For Expecting Mothers
When you’re pregnant, there are a million things to think about. During this important time, your actions can influence the health of your baby’s smile. First, make sure you’re taking care of your own teeth. Your regular brushing and flossing habits will help keep you healthy and provide a good example to your child later on.
Making healthy choices when it comes to what you eat will help provide nutrients vital for the development of your baby’s teeth, which begin to form between the third and sixth months of pregnancy. During this crucial time of development, it is important that your diet includes the essential nutrients needed to help your baby’s teeth form correctly. Nutrients needed include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, protein and calcium.
Expecting mothers may be hesitant to visit the dentist while they’re pregnant, but dental checkups are safe and recommended during pregnancy. If it’s been six months or more since your last visit, it’s time to visit your dentist. Make sure you tell your dentist how far along you are in your pregnancy and discuss any medications you’re taking. If at any time during your pregnancy you experience oral swelling, bleeding or pain call your dentist immediately.
For New Parents
It is important to think about your child’s oral health before your baby is born and establish good oral health practices early on. Your baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in their jaw at birth; these teeth begin emerging from the gums at around six months. Until then, wipe your child’s gums with a clean washcloth or moist gauze pad. As baby teeth appear, begin gently brushing them twice a day, using a baby toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste containing fluoride.
The first tooth is your signal it’s time to schedule your baby’s first dental visit. During the first dental visit, the dentist will look for any problems with the teeth and gums and look for signs of cavities. This first visit is the perfect time to talk to your dentist about brushing and flossing, as well as any other questions you may have about your child’s oral health.
Establishing a regular regimen including a healthy diet, brushing, flossing and regular dental checkups is vital to a child’s oral health. Beginning early with good oral health habits will ensure your baby’s teeth are as healthy as possible and will help avoid serious and costly health problems as they grow. It is important to remember that tooth decay is preventable. Brushing and flossing are the keys to having a healthy smile – from the start.
Want to learn more about the campaign and available materials?
If you would like to learn more about the Healthy Smiles from the Start campaign in Montana or order campaign materials, contact the Montana Dental Association at 406-443-2061 or info [AT] MontanaDental [DOT] org. You can follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MTHealthySmiles/.
As part of the Healthy Smiles from the Start campaign, the Montana Dental Association is coordinating community presentations throughout Montana. Presentations will be given by dentists and hygienists who will share information about oral health for pregnant women and infants. Community presentations are being coordinated based on interest and will be provided at no cost to community groups across the state during the Spring and Summer of 2016.
Looking for more oral health information and resources?
The American Dental Association (ADA) is a great resource for information about oral health, nutrition, and dental care. You can find more information on their website at www.mouthhealthy.org/en/.
Below are additional trusted oral health resources you may find useful:
- Information about oral health during pregnancy from the ADA: www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy
- Dental care tips and activities for infants and children from the ADA: www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/
- Bright Smiles Montana, an online resource for treatment of young children: www.brightsmilesmontana.com