Dentalcare for Moms and Kids by Dr Anjali Shetty – Orthodontist

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Hello Moms,

Here is a brief and dentist care tips from a dentist mommy, Dr Anjali.

I completed my bachelors in dental surgery and then went on to do my masters in dentistry in the field of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. I am currently working as an associate professor and guide for post doctoral students at M,R Ambedkar dental college. . .I also run a dental office on Kammanahalli main road and another one in HRBR layout Bangalore,along with my husband Dr Ganesh Shetty, who is a dental implantologist. I have published numerous articles in national and international journals and also presented several papers at orthodontic conferences the latest one being at the Asia pacific summit in October. My areas of interest are preventive and interceptive orthodontics , myofunctional therapy for developing jaw problems in children and invisible braces for smile enhancement.

Queries from Moms

Does pregnancy affect my gums and teeth if so how??
Pregnancy can have a profound effect on ones gums and teeth if the oral hygiene is compromised. An expecting mother is prone to gum inflammation and subsequent bleeding from the gums with or without mobility of certain teeth. This could be attributed to an alteration in the composition of plaque(soft deposits on teeth) due to an increase in progesterone hormone as  well as a reduction in immunity of the body during pregnancy .

Does the oral health of the mother affect the baby’s health??
There have been conflicting views on whether poor gum health in expectant mothers can translate into an increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes like , pre eclampsia ( high blood pressure),preterm deliveries or low birth weight babies.An increase in the bacterial products carried from the mothers mouth via the blood stream could indirectly increase biologically active molecules that could foster premature labor. broken silver fillings could leach mercury which has been linked to autism in newborns.

Is it ok to get treated for any dental problem during pregnancy?
It is prudent to avoid extensive dental treatment especially in the first and third trimester of pregnancy. since formation of the organs of the fetus occurs in the first trimester , it would be highly sensitive to external influences. In the 3rdt trimester , dental treatment could trigger a premature delivery. Early in the 2nd trimester is the safest for dental treatment like scaling, fillings or root canal treatment. The presence of acute infections or abscess warrants prompt intervention under pregnancy-safe antibiotic coverage irrespective of the stage of pregnancy. Major surgeries and unnecessary x ray exposure should be postponed until after the delivery.

What are the common dental problems during pregnancy?
Bleeding and swollen gums,mobile teeth, foul mouth odor,acidic erosion of inner aspects of teeth due to regurgitation of gastric contents and vomiting are the common problems faced by pregnant women. An increased susceptibility to tooth decay and foul mouth odor due to a reduced salivary flow have also been observed.

Tips to tackle/avoid them?
a)good home oral care including brushing twice a day with a fluoridated tooth paste, flossing and use of a non alcohol based mouth rinse.
b) increase water intake thereby improving hydration of the oral tissues.
c)routine dental visits and professional cleaning of teeth if necessary(2nd trimester preferred)
d)bring all acute infections under control immediately using safe antibiotics recommended during pregnancy by your gynecologist and the dental health professional.

Queries related to babies and kids

Does oral care begin before the first tooth appear?When should i first clean my baby’s teeth and how?
Yes, oral care should begin before the first tooth erupts. A good time to do it is during nappy change time on a table where there is adequate lighting. A clean damp cloth can be used to wipe the debris off the gum tissue after each feed. Alternatively an infant tooth brush with a small head and plain water can be used to clean the teeth once they erupt.

At what age should the brushing routine be introduced?
An infants teeth can be brushed as soon as the first tooth erupts(6-10 months at age). Until age 2 ,a soft bristled infant tooth brush with water can be used twice a day.Above age 2, brushing using a fluoridated tooth paste twice a day can be done. fluoride supplements(topical/systemic) can be provided under the supervision of a dentist for older children who are highly prone to tooth decay.

When to start using a toothpaste?
For children aged 2 and above ,brush twice a day with a pea sized amount of a dentist recommended fluoridated toothpaste can be used but the child must be asked to spit it out after brushing and not rinse.Parental supervision is mandatory while he child brushes until age 7 -8 years as fine motor skills are not yet fully established.

When should my baby first visit the dentist??
The first visit is ideally scheduled within 6 months of eruption of the first tooth and during the early part of the day when the child is not tired. It is important to make this an exciting and enjoyable experience ,so talking to your baby about what to expect when shes at the dentists in a positive way works like magic..

Does bottle feed affect the teeth in any way?
Putting a baby to bed for a prolonged period with a bottle of sweet beverages or milk in his mouth in conjunction with poor oral care could lead to a rampant decay of teeth referred to as nursing bottle caries.This primarily affects the upper front teeth and can also be seen in breast fed infants with prolonged feeding habits.This decay presents initially as whitish areas of decalcification around the teeth and then becomes pigmented to a light yellow or brown colour.

Is thumb sucking harmful? How can i stop it?
During the first one and a half years of life it is considered normal.If the habit persists beyond five years of age ,it can have a detrimental effect on the dento facial structures leading to proclination of teeth , open bite or narrowing of upper arches.

Tips to prevent /control it
a) feed the child whenever hes hungry for as long as he wants
b)breast feeding as much as possible has not only a nutritive but also a psychological value
c) discourage the habit at its inception.if the child must suck, encourage dummy sucking.
d)ensure that the child is emotionally secure by spending quality time with him.
e)chemical(pepper,castor oil) and physical (bandage , tapes or thumb guard)restraints around the thumb can also be tried.

Any easy and practical tips to maintain a good oral health//?

  • Brushing twice a day in circular motion with a fluoridated tooth paste
  • Rinsing the mouth thoroughly every time you eat .
  • Reduce intake of candies,chocolates,sweets and carbonated drinks.
  • Use of a xylitol mouthwash and oral floss to maintain hygiene
  • Vist your dentist every 6 months for a thorough evaluation.

Mantra for work life balance and tips for working mothers.
I strictly adhere to the principle of not bringing work home. I switch off from work with a robotic precision once Im home with my 5 year old boy.I ensure that my son gets my undivided attention thereby spending quality time with him. I persevere to never miss any occasion that may be of importance to him and I always try to read him to sleep at night to instill a sense of security.

Tips for working moms
Working mothers should strive to give their best shot at work as well as at home without being too hard on themselves. its important to love and respect yourself as much as you love your family and work. Its alright and essential to be selfish at times and take time out and do things just for yourself…that would make you a much more lovable person to have around. so happy parenting!!!

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6 Responses to Dentalcare for Moms and Kids by Dr Anjali Shetty – Orthodontist

  1. Kriti Dutta says:

    hello Dr. Anjali Shetty
    thank you for such a nice article . This will definitely help expecting moms and all the other moms because dental problem is one of those problems which are arising alot these days. thank you

  2. Wilfredo R. says:

    This article is full of helpful information. Now I have to decide to put this advice to work for me. Thanks again!

  3. reks says:

    Shwetha- really glad this was useful to u. Pls do let us know any other specific concerns you may have, we ll try to reach out to the experts and get advice.

  4. Jaishri says:

    Glad it helped Shwetha :)

  5. Shwetha K B says:

    Thank u for this one.recently my daughter had a dental check up at school and I was kind of anxious .this article cleared my doubts to an extent

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