How Prenatal Nutrition Impacts a Child’s Smile
You probably know that proper nutrition during pregnancy plays an important role in fetal development. The word “development” extends beyond limbs, organs, brain, and internal systems. Prenatal nutrition can significantly impact a child’s dental development. Dr. Bevin Malley is a Charlotte children’s dentist who provides a full range of pediatric dental services at Carolina Kids Dentistry. She provides some recommendations to improve oral health for expectant mothers and their babies.
Tooth Formation Begins Early
Even though a baby is born with no teeth visible, that doesn’t mean that they’re not there! Tooth formation begins during the second trimester of pregnancy. A newborn baby is typically born with around 20 primary teeth present in the jaw.
Nutrition is Key
It’s important for expectant mothers to eat foods containing protein, phosphorus, and calcium. Vitamins, A, C, and D are also necessary components of a good diet and crucial for optimal dental development.
Deficiencies of these key nutrients can negatively impact prenatal tooth formation and make children susceptible to dental decay. A lack of good prenatal nutrition can also contribute to hypoplasia, or chalky teeth. Hypoplasia inhibits the proper formation of tooth enamel in children, causing weak, chalky teeth that are sensitive to heat and cold and prone to decay.
Take Care of Your Own Smile
In addition to eating properly, pregnant women need to be diligent about oral health care. The bacteria that cause cavities can be passed from mother to baby. Periodontal (gum) disease has been linked to pre-term birth and low birth weight, which can put a child at risk for a variety of negative health conditions.