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FAQs About Oral Health During Pregnancy and Infancy

Understand special oral health concerns during pregnancy, dental benefits for pregnant women and babies, and more.

Pregnancy and Your Oral Health

Many state Medicaid programs include a dental benefit for pregnant women because pregnancy has special oral health concerns. Also, babies need oral care even though they are born without teeth.

Here are some frequently asked questions about these subjects.

I’m in good health and have good brushing and flossing habits. Why is oral health a special concern while I’m pregnant?
Pregnancy usually causes gums to swell, which creates a higher risk of gum disease. Gum disease causes problems with pregnancy and to your baby.

How is gum disease dangerous to my unborn baby?
Gum disease in pregnant women can lead to early labor and babies who are born too soon. Premature babies are vulnerable to serious health problems. Those issues include cerebral palsy, developmental delays, vision or hearing loss, diseases of the lungs, stomach, or intestines, and more. Premature babies are also at a much bigger risk of dying.

I’m pregnant. When should I see a dentist?
Pregnant women should see the dentist at least once. It is best to visit the dentist early in pregnancy, in case you will need more care or advice in later months.

Your baby's oral health

Newborns don’t have teeth, so why is oral care important?
Good oral health starts before the first tooth even comes in. Daily oral hygiene supports a child’s oral health and build toward a healthy future.

Before your baby has teeth, gently wipe their gums twice a day with a clean, wet washcloth. Keep up with this routine as teeth start to come in to keep the teeth strong and healthy. See more about baby teeth below.

When do baby teeth first show?
Every child is different, but the lower teeth usually come in after eight months. The upper teeth appear after 10 months. Molars usually come in at 26 months.

How do I care for my baby’s teeth?
When the first baby tooth appears, you can begin to introduce toothpaste with fluoride. Add a small amount to a clean, moist washcloth, and rub it on the tooth.

As more teeth come in, gently brush your child’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Work up to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste by age three.

How else should I protect my baby’s oral health?
Choose a dental home - a dentist office to get care now and into the future. Make an appointment at your chosen dental home before your child is one year old.

The team at the dental home will keep an eye on possible risks to future health and provide guidance to help your family healthy. Starting this relationship early helps your baby get comfortable with the dentist and in doctors’ offices overall.

Preventistry Pulse


The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.